Liverpool cruised past Arsenal in a comfortable 3-0 victory on a one-sided Saturday night in north London.
Both teams struggled to mount any serious attempts on their opponent’s goal in the first half, although the Reds dominated possession. Mohamed Salah was played in on goal by Sadio Mane just before the half-hour mark, but his pass fell slightly behind the Egyptian, who failed to readjust and strike at goal.
Liverpool came close to breaking the deadlock on 35 minutes, but James Milner skewed his shot wide from the edge of the box, and the two teams headed into the break all square. The Gunners remained camped in their own half in the second period, and did a good job of keeping the visitors at arm’s length for the opening 15 minutes.
But Diogo Jota’s introduction on the hour-mark changed the game, as the Portuguese forward crashed a super header beyond Bernd Leno, just three minutes after entering the action, to put the Reds in front.
Mohamed Salah then doubled their advantage on 68 minutes, beating Gabriel and slotting the ball through Leno’s legs to put Jurgen Klopp and his staff at ease. And Jota wrapped up the scoring with eight minutes to play, charging into the box to blast beyond the Arsenal goalkeeper.
Right, let’s get on with the player ratings.
Bernd Leno (GK) – 5/10 – Not sure if it was Leno in between the sticks, or the ghost of Leno. The first two goals – especially the second – could have been stopped. Especially the second, dear me. No chance with the third.
Calum Chambers (RB) – 5/10 – Didn’t show that link-up of old with Pepe, and was pinned back into his own half by Liverpool’s lightning wingers. Beaten all ends up too many times.
Rob Holding (CB) – 5/10 – Solid and resolute in the first half, keeping Firmino very quiet. Lost Jota immediately after he came on, allowing the little forward to head home. Poor.
Gabriel (CB) – 5/10 – Potentially did enough to disturb Salah when he was bearing down on goal in the first half. Got pulled about by the Egyptian at times, and then fluffed his tackle to gift the winger a goal. Game over.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 6/10 – The more adventurous of the Arsenal full-backs, but struggled to make any inroads. Suffered a nasty blow to the knee which ended his evening. A big shame.
Thomas Partey (CM) – 7/10 – A powerful presence in the midfield, reading the game well to snap in and break up play with impeccable timing. Couldn’t beat the Liverpool midfield with the ball and remained penned in. Helpless.
Dani Ceballos (CM) – 5/10 – A disastrous display from the Spaniard. Ran down blind alleys and gave up possession far too easily. Targeted by the Reds and stayed in Fabinho’s pocket. Subbed after an hour – lucky to last that long.
Martin Odegaard (AM) – 5/10 – Kept under wraps by Milner and Fabinho, and had to work hard to find any space. Nullified for the entire match.
Nicolas Pepe (RW) – 5/10 – Tried to drag Arsenal up the pitch with his dribbling, but often lacked support and ran out of space and ideas.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – 5/10 – Took an elbow to the face but recovered to battle on. Hardly touched the ball. Didn’t get the support needed, and cut a very frustrated figure.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – 6/10 – Did not shy away from his defensive duties, tracking back to deny Salah on more than one occasion. Posed no threat up top, though.
Cedric Soares (LB) – 6/10
Mohamed Elneny (CM) – 5/10
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 6/10
Alisson Becker (GK) – 6/10 – Forced into action by Pepe, making a routine save from a soft header. A calm first half. Equally as straightforward in the second and an easy night’s work.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 8/10 – Whipped in some decent set pieces, and rarely looked fazed by the presence of Aubameyang on that flank. Finally got his reward, planting a beautiful cross onto Jota’s head.
Nathaniel Phillips (CB) – 8/10 – A physical, all action display. Landed a heavy elbow on Lacazette’s eye and drew blood. Welcome to the game, Alex.
Ozan Kabak (CB) – 7/10 – A standard first half, and looked very settled in this back line. Rarely troubled by a limp and lifeless Arsenal attack.
Andy Robertson (LB) – 6/10 – Saw little of the ball as Liverpool attacked down the right. Didn’t have too many problems with Pepe, sticking to his task. Subbed.
Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 7/10 – Offered some nice touches and quick passes in the midfield, trying to inject some rhythm and urgency into Liverpool’s play.
Fabinho (CM) – 8/10 – Flashed a dangerous strike towards goal which zipped just wide. Close. Dominated the centre of the park, not allowing Arsenal a kick for large periods. A class above most on the pitch.
James Milner (CM) – 7/10 – Tasked with keeping a close eye on Odegaard, and didn’t let the attacking midfielder out of his sight. Missed the best chance of the first half, firing wide from the edge of the box.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7/10 – Showed great strength to bounce off tackles and frighten Arsenal with direct running. Couldn’t take the ball in his stride from Mane’s square pass. Got his chance in the second half and took it. Finally.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – 6/10 – Showed some quick feet to jink inside a tackle and have a crack at goal, but his effort bent wide. Other than that, it was another underwhelming display.
Sadio Mane (LW) – 6/10 – Placed a first-half pass slightly behind Salah, squandering what should have been the opener. No urgency in his play, and not a top evening.
Diogo Jota (ST) – 8/10 – SUPER SUB! Came on, changed the game, scored two goals and did the business. Get him starting every week!
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 7/10
Rhys Williams (CB) – N/A