Fluent football that was stunning to behold. That is the Liverpool we know and love.
The Reds were unstoppable all evening, as the constant pressure applied by Klopp’s side eventually told with three goals that were fully deserved. It was a performance that the manager has been searching for, and after a much-needed rest for some, they came back firing on all cylinders.
It was a refreshing return to form as many fans – like myself – will have enjoyed the game in a relaxed and confident manner, at no point getting worried at the prospect of a goal from the Gunners. In truth, Arteta’s side never got close to Alisson’s goal. Even then, the efforts they did manage troubled him very little.
The saying “complete performance” comes to mind when looking back at this 90 minutes of football. Practically every player had a great game and contributed to the brilliance that unfolded. The hope is now that the side kick on and produce something similar in midweek in a massive Champions League game against Real Madrid.
Returning to events at the Emirates, Klopp decided to rest players who had played significant parts during the international break, but generally opted for a strong line up despite the importance of the upcoming fixture on Tuesday. This gave the players chance to return to form and answer the many questions hanging over them going into the national team break. Liverpool responded in the strongest possible way.
After asserting there dominance early, they proceeded to force Arsenal back into there own third and began the puzzle of unlocking their opponents. Chances came and went for Mané and Milner, with the later missing the opportunity of the first half, as a cutback from Alexander-Arnold found the Englishman on the edge with bags of time. The 35-year-old unfortunately pulled his effort wide, leaving the Reds perplexed at why they weren’t ahead at the interval.
Liverpool returned for the second period with the same hunger and tenacity they displayed in the first half, and this time they would make their dominance count. After coming on for Robertson just after the hour mark, Diogo Jota applied the magic touch with a thumping header into the top corner, after a delicious whipped cross from the wonderful Alexander-Arnold.
Minutes later the Reds killed the contest, as on his 150th Premier League appearance, Mohamed Salah rolled in his 18th league goal of the season through the legs of the advancing Bernd Leno. It was a fully deserved strike for the Egyptian who was a nuisance all game, forcing Arteta’s side into several mistakes, whilst producing several moments of brilliance.
The cherry on top of the cake was applied in the closing moments, as the goal machine that is Diogo Jota stroked home from close range. The Portuguese international will be key to the Reds endeavours for the remainder of the season – and in this form – looks completely unstoppable.
A game like this was coming. The Reds’ rotten form was always going to end domestically and they did that last time out against Wolves. Against Arsenal, they produced a performance that was on par with what has been produced over the last three seasons. Long may it continue and the all firing Liverpool can continue against Los Blancos.
Klopp made two alterations from the side who defeated Wolves before the international break. Gini Wijnaldum and Diogo Jota dropped to the bench after exhausting journeys for there national sides, replaced by the returning Roberto Firmino and ever reliant James Milner.
Here are my winners and losers from the game:
FabinhoEmbed from Getty Images
The best player on the pitch, narrowly edging out Alexander-Arnold. He was awesome, running the game with ease and never failing to miss out on completing his duties. He was everywhere, winning every tackle, every header and even popped up with an assist for Salah’s goal.
When he was tasked to play centre back during the vast majority of the campaign, he thoroughly impressed me with how he adapted with such ease, despite the chaos of the defensive injury situation. He was the reliable presence that was needed at the back at the time and never disappointed.
Yet, his return to midfield has seen him raise his game once again, displaying many of the qualities that have him labelled as the best defensive midfielder in the league. The performance against Arsenal was nothing short of mesmerising, as the Arsenal attackers eventually just gave up trying to get past the Brazilian.
His decision making throughout the 90 minutes was a footballing masterclass and should be put into a museum. I could not fault – even if extremely critical – any part of his game in London and the signs are ominous for any attackers coming up against Liverpool.
Real Madrid will look at Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak and feel that they can try to exploit the weaknesses that these two might have, when they line-up against them on Tuesday. However, they will have a seriously difficult task at getting to them in the first place, as Fabinho will look to haunt his former side on his return to the Spanish capital with a destructive display.
Trent Alexander-ArnoldEmbed from Getty Images
What a response at being left out of the England squad! Many thought that despite his poor form, the right-back would have been selected by Gareth Southgate for the three World Cup qualifying fixtures. Yet – to the surprise of everyone – he was completely left out and thus lit a fire in his belly ready for this Arsenal game.
From the first minute you could see he was on a mission to prove Gareth wrong. He was bombing up and down that right flank all evening, providing the world class attacking threat we know he has, whilst also proving a solid base in the back four with an impressive display that nullified the threat of Aubameyang. He did his defensive duties that well, you wouldn’t have known that the Gabon international was playing.
His stand out moment was obviously his assist for Diogo Jota’s first goal. The cross was nothing short of delightful. It was perfection personified that only a limited number of players in world football possess. The roar that followed from the 22-year-old as Jota converted, showed the relief and hunger that had built up during the fortnight off.
He has been the stand out full back in the world for several years now. When comparing others, Alexander-Arnold is regarded as the pinnacle. A display like this can only spark the Englishman back into a confident mindset, that will only work wonders for his form. If he can continue like this, then opposition managers will have a serious conundrum to solve in an attempt to stop him.
Diogo JotaEmbed from Getty Images
DioGOAL Jota. Everything he touches continues to turn to gold and long may it continue. After an exhausting international break – which saw him continue his fine form with three goals in two games – he started the Arsenal game on the bench. However, as soon as he was introduced the clinical nature of Liverpool appeared, and thus took the game away from the Gunners.
He had only been on the pitch for three minutes when Alexander-Arnold’s pin point cross found the Portuguese striker’s head. From there the 24-year-old did the rest, with a ruthless finish on par with the league’s best finishers. From this moment, Liverpool became unplayable and Jota was the pinpoint of that Reds juggernaut.
Considering the form he is in, his second goal was as basic as it could be. After Alexander-Arnold regained possession high up the pitch, the ball was swiftly recycled into the feet of the forwards. With surgical precision, Salah rolled the ball into Mané who controlled it into the onrushing Jota to thrash home from close range.
It was a 30-minute cameo that further strengthened his importance to this team. He seems to be the Reds most valuable player currently, as everything good seems to go through him. His fitness and continued good form couldn’t be more important at this time. Hopefully, he can continue to be the signing of the season and exceed all expectations.
Sadio ManéEmbed from Getty Images
He didn’t even have a bad game but lands himself in this spot purely because he impacted the game the least. As his fellow striking compatriots – Salah and Firmino – scored and had a good game respectively, the Senegal international failed to reach the levels set by these two despite the one-sided nature of the game.
He started proceedings strongly with some dynamic runs in behind that caused the Arsenal defenders some serious concern. In particular, his turning of Rob Holding and driving run into the box in the tenth minute. Unfortunately – as has been the case for the majority of this season – the winger chose to pass the ball instead of taking it on himself. This showed a clear lack of confidence at this time which is understandable considering his sub-par displays in recent months.
A number of opportunities followed for him to take advantage of but he failed to convert them. His diving header and one-on-one with Bernd Leno in the closing moments where serious chances for him to instil some confidence again. However, he was thwarted on both occasions.
What Mané needs to remember and take comfort in, is that he is one of the best players in the world. No football fan can argue with that at all. Yet, because of this and the standards he has set over the past five years, his performances are measured against his portfolio in a Liverpool shirt.
With the rest of the team looking like they are returning to form, they are a Sadio Mané good display away from seriously thrashing a team. When the winger returns to form – and that is inevitable – it is going to be a sight to behold and you wouldn’t want to be the side coming up against an in-form 28-year-old.
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