Liverpool – Firmino (14’, 16’, 65’), Mane (32’), Salah (45+2’)
Arsenal – Maitland-Niles (11’)
Rampant Reds too hot to handle in a 5-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield.
It was a nervy start for Liverpool as a misplaced pass from Lovren allows the visitors to attack on the break and go up 1-0 through Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
But the Arsenal supporters hadn’t even finished celebrating when Roberto Firmino put the home side back on level terms after a messy bit of defending from the Gunners.
The game was quickly turned on its head as Firmino netted a second just a couple of minutes later. The striker drove forward, evaded the Arsenal defenders and slotted the ball past Leno.
In the 32ndminute Liverpool notched their third through Sadio Mane. Robertson picked up a clearance from a corner and found Mohamed Salah in space, who knocked the ball across the face of goal and the Senegalese international tapped home.
Things went from bad to worse from Arsenal as Salah was brought down in the box by Sokratis. The Egyptian went on to convert from the spot, sending the Reds in at the break 4-1 up.
Arsenal made changes at the break, bringing on Laurent Koscielny for Shkodran Mustafi in order to bring some order to the defense.
But in the 64thminute another penalty is awarded to the Reds for a foul on Dejan Lovren in the box. Salah handed the ball to Firmino as the number nine was on a hat-trick and the Brazilian delivered, getting his third of the game.
Liverpool still looked to get forward, but appeared content with their lead and was in complete control for the remaining 15 minutes.
Player and Manager Ratings:
Alisson – 8 (Couldn’t do much for the Arsenal goal, but did make some decent saves early on. Played a crucial role in the first penalty, sending a phenomenal pass up the field to Firmino).
Alexander-Arnold – 7 (Struggled a little bit early on with Iwobi and was caught out in Arsenal’s goal. Definitely grew into the game).
Lovren – 7 (Largely at fault for Arsenal’s goal with his misplaced pass. He almost goes full-Lovren as he tries to recover, but ends up getting caught out as Arsenal one-two around him. But kept his cool and didn’t let the mistake affect the rest of his game, was pretty solid from then on. Also won the second penalty).
Van Dijk – 7 (Was out of position for the Maitland-Niles goal but pretty solid as always).
Robertson – 7 (Maitland-Niles caused a few problems and he was caught way out of position for Arsenal’s goal. Got booked).
Fabinho – 7 (A few sloppy passes early on but could’ve scored in the second half).
Wijnaldum – 9 (Absolutely ran the midfield. Was everywhere, won everything and held the ball up well. Man of the match performance).
Shaqiri – 7 (Put in a good shift. Didn’t provide much cover for Trent early on but grew into the game).
Salah – 8 (Provided a brilliant assist for Mane’s goal, won and scored the first penalty. Allowed Firmino to take the second as he was on a hat-trick).
Mane – 8 (Was everywhere and put in a really good shift. Took his goal brilliantly).
Firmino – 9 (Hat-trick hero. Took all three goals really well and played a huge part in Salah winning a penalty).
Henderson – 7 (Extremely composed and helped us see out the game comfortably. Fired a ball into row Z of the Kop, much to fan’s amusement).
Lallana – 7 (Cruyff turns again. Giving the fans what they want).
Clyne – 7 (Getting some important minutes).
Manager Rating: Klopp – 9 (Trusted his team and his game plan. Iwobi was causing problems early on but believed in what they were doing, didn’t make any tactical changes. This paid off and Liverpool now has a comfortable cushion at the top of the league).
Leno – 5 (Fumbled for Firmino’s first goal, but couldn’t do much more for the others. Looked very shaky at times).
Lichsteiner – 4 (Involved in the shambles that was Arsenal’s defense. Not the calming, experienced presence he was bought to be).
Sokratis – 4 (Really struggled against Liverpool’s front three and conceded a stupid penalty).
Mustafi – 4 (Taken off at half-time. Not great).
Kolasinac – 4 (Conceded another needless penalty and offered very little).
Xhaka – 5 (Tried his best but wasn’t able to do much. Overrun by Liverpool’s midfield).
Torreira – 4 (Caught out by Liverpool’s high press. Was caught in possession in the build-up to Liverpool’s second goal. Pretty invisible).
Ramsey – 4 (Started well but his influence dropped as the game went on).
Maitland-Niles – 6 (Scored the goal to put the Gunners 1-0 up. Caused Robertson a few problems).
Iwobi – 7 (The best of the Arsenal players. Was crucial in everything Arsenal did going forward and was important in the build-up to their goal. Didn’t stop running).
Aubameyang – 3 (Wasn’t the influence he would’ve liked to do. Didn’t receive a lot of services. Hooked for Lacazette).
Koscielny – 5 (Brought some composure to the Arsenal defense second-half but the damage was already done).
Lacazette – 5 (Gave Arsenal a little more going forward, but the game was already gone).
Guendouzi – 5 (Didn’t have much time to do anything).
Manager Rating: Unai Emery– 4 (Not the same Arsenal side we saw at the Emirates. His side’s defense was a shambles and he can only hope the Arsenal owners will be digging deep into their pockets in the January transfer window).
Liverpool faces31 arguably their biggest game of the season on January 3rdwhen they face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side at the Etihad. This game will have a huge say in the title race and Klopp’s men will hope to capitalize on City’s poor form. It’s hard to see Liverpool not winning the league if they head back to Merseyside with all three points next week.
The Gunners are next in action on New Year’s day when they face Fulham at the Emirates. Emery will be hoping his side can bounce back from a disappointing result and there is no better chance to do so than facing a struggling Fulham side at home.
By Hannah Pinnock