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It’s more of the same from Liverpool as the Reds made it three wins over Arsenal on the hop with four different names on the score-sheet with the Gunners extending their poor record at Anfield.
Maybe it’s a bit potty to say, but the hardest thing on the day would be choosing the Man of the Match — with the hosts dominating the opening exchanges, those that made the trip from North London couldn’t have been shocked when Roberto Firmino opened the scoring less than 20-minutes in, coolly heading home Joe Gomez’s curled cross after the youngster won the ball back in the attacking third. Sadio Mane would continue his scoring spree against Arsenal, cutting in from the left and bending a Coutinhoesque effort past Petr Cech and in to the far corner to send the hosts into the break well in control.
That they could have had at least four going in to the second half wouldn’t have been an understatement with Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah both missing more than one gilt edged opportunity each, but the Egyptian refused to be denied in the second half, robbing Gunners fullback Hector Bellerin before running almost the entire length of the pitch en-route celebrating in front of the Kop. Daniel Sturridge, on as a substitute, would add insult to injury when he headed home Salah’s inviting cross for his 100th in the Premier League as the Englishman confirmed the rout.
“We did very well, started well, we were solid, forced them into areas where they didn’t want to be and were devastating on the attack,” enthused Liverpool skipper Henderson, speaking to Sky Sports after the final whistle. “As the games have gone on we have got better and better. Our fitness levels have been brilliant, we worked hard in pre-season,” continued the Captain. “We controlled the game everywhere really. Overall we are delighted. We have got talent, but you have to have the hard work and heart to match that, like we did today.”
The sheer composure of this side going forward is quite astonishing; given that they’ve only played together for a short while, the ability of the front three of Firmino, Salah and Mane to shift in and out of spaces and find each others runs just that when you’re a top class footballer, you get the job done. With all respect due to the Arsenal, they couldn’t live with the pressure — Mesut Ozil was a passenger throughout, the usually prolific Alexis Sanchez couldn’t get a foothold, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey were left chasing shadows and the less said about Arsene Wenger’s decision to stick with three at the back the better.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp came in for a bit of criticism prior to kick-off for dropping Reds ‘keeper Simon Mignolet for a bit of “mental rest”, but in the end it really didn’t matter as his replacement in Loris Karius was rarely troubled. That the visitors didn’t have a single shot on target surely helped the German’s cause, but even when they looked like threatening, they were either snuffed out by the industry of Gomez, the cool composure of Joel Matip or they made a total hash of the situation on their own.
What we needed to do well, we did with aplomb and where we needed to be excellent we were — and then some. It’d be nice we could conjure up this kind of effervescent performance against the Watfords and a Burnley’s of the league, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes. When this team is on, we’re very much on and I’ll enjoy that feeling while it lasts and hopefully carry it past the International Break and into the trip just up the road and the showdown with Manchester City in just under a fortnights time.