Mane and Salah steer Liverpool past Arsenal - player ratings, reaction and analysis
Liverpool’s front three helped themselves to a goal apiece after wearing down an inspired Aaron Ramsdale to beat Arsenal 4-0 and go second in the Premier League.
Ramsdale was on top form to deny the hosts in the early stages but Sadio Mane’s steered header put the Reds in front six minutes before the break.
Diogo Jota exploited an error from Nuno Tavares to waltz past Ramsdale and make it two in front of the Kop. And Mohamed Salah eventually got his goal after the Gunners keeper had further frustrated the Premier League’s top goalscorer.
Substitute Takumi Minamino tapped home a fourth with his first touch, before 19-year-old Tyler Morton made his Premier League debut late on.
It was a frustrating night for Mikel Arteta, who had to be pulled away from Jurgen Klopp during an ill-tempered touchline spat. Arsenal looked in the game for much of the first half but Liverpool’s quality eventually showed as they pulled away from the visitors after the break.
The win moves Liverpool to within three points of league leaders Chelsea, while for fifth-place Arsenal their 10-game unbeaten streak comes to an end.
This was always likely to be the true acid test of Arsenal’s improvement. Mikel Arteta’s side arrived at Anfield, emboldened by an eight-game unbeaten run that had seen them rise from 20th at the end of August to fifth at the start of the weekend. Impressive as that run has been, the pertinent question before kick-off was whether it was proof of evolution or yet another false dawn, given Arsenal had beaten teams they would expect to beat and taken advantage of dreadful displays from Spurs and Leicester in the other two matches. After half an hour, it looked as though the answer might have been the more positive one. Arsenal have been more susceptible than most to the Anfield onslaught, conceding 18 times in their previous five league visits to the stadium, including 11 in the first half. Arteta, meanwhile, played and scored in a 5-1 defeat in 2014 in which Arsenal found themselves 4-0 down by the 20th minute. In recent meetings between the two, Liverpool have overwhelmed Arsenal with their intensity and worn them down with their quality. On this occasion, though, it took a while for Liverpool to find their usual tempo. Ironically, it was a touchline skirmish involving both managers that appeared to snap them into life, with Arteta and Jurgen Klopp each earning yellow cards for a heated exchange. It was as if the players were angry that someone had dared to question their bosses authority inside his own home. Sadio Mane scored the opener from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pinpoint free-kick, at which point Arenal’s resistance began to creak. In the second half, it fell to pieces. The Gunners had attempted to play themselves into trouble on a few occasions, before Nuno Tavares generously set up Diogo Jota for Liverpool’s second, with the Portuguese deceiving Gabriel Magalhaes and rounding Aaron Ramsdale, before side-footing into an empty net. Mo Salah added the third, before Takumi Minamino completed the rout. On the balance of the final hour, a 4-0 victory was a deserving one for the home side. It was the fifth time Arsenal had lost by four or more goals at Anfield, setting a new, unwanted Premier League record. It was also as many goals as they had conceded in their previous eight league matches combined. The disappointing aspect of this latest Merseyside massacre, is that Arsenal contributed towards their own demise. Arsenal have certainly made progress but this result means that in three matches against the Premier League’s three best teams this season – Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool – they have lost by a combined score of 11-0. That is an indicator that while a promising young core of players is emerging, there is still plenty of work that still needs to be done.
Alexander Arnold: ‘We were all over them’
Victory over Arsenal comes two weeks after Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season at West Ham before the international break.
And Trent Alexander-Arnold was delighted with how the team patiently waited for the breakthrough.
“It was exactly what we needed – nothing more and nothing less. They came as two banks of four and were tough to break down but we scored our goals and put the game to bed. To see out the clean sheet is very good,” said the Reds full-back.
“In the first half we had that aggression but didn’t capitalise on it. The first 15-20 minutes of the second half were as good as we’ve pressed all season. We were all over them – they were just seeing red blurs all over the place. That second half was outstanding.
“It’s always good to contribute to the team. Scoring, creating goals is what my game is based on.
“I’m happy with that – I just need to keep up that form. All games are very important and hopefully I can keep that form up.
“I’m feeling good out there. I’m playing with freedom and finding myself in positions I haven’t previously. It’s going really nicely. These are the levels I expect of myself.”
Reds boss Klopp, who clashed with Arteta on the touchline, said he hadn’t planned the stand-off with Arsenal’s manager but was happy with how the team responded after the incident.
“When they rise up from the bench it’s difficult to not get up and say something,” he said.
“After 1-0 for about five minutes Arsenal had their best phase. It was a relief to get the second and we have to be in more control in these moments.
“I said a few little things at half-time and then we played really good football and could’ve scored more. They made a few really good saves today but after half-time we saw it out. Let’s hope that we can see it through to the next game – we will keep fighting.
“It wasn’t a top class performance but it was very controlled and mature and exciting in other parts. The goals we scored were well played, worked for in counter-pressing situations. I like these goals because they cause problems for the opponents – you can be greedy in these situations and we were today.”