Liverpool produced a superb performance to dispatch of Arsenal at Anfield, with numerous players back to their brilliant best.
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Premier League, Anfield
March 4, 2017
Goals: Firmino (9), Mane (41), Wijnaldum (90); Welbeck (57)
Simon Mignolet (out of 10) – 7
It was a quiet evening for Mignolet, with the goalkeeper largely untroubled by a toothless Arsenal side.
One slightly shaky attempt at a punch in the first-half didn’t cover himself in glory, but everything else he did was authoritative.
Made a good save to deny Olivier Giroud early in the second-half.
Nathaniel Clyne – 7
Clyne has been disappointing since the turn of the year, like so many Liverpool players, but this was his best performance in a while.
The right-back offered endless width and energy down the right flank, and appeared to be far more confident with his use of the ball in general. Defensively-sound, as ever.
His final ball in the box does though need to be better. One extremely wasteful shot blazed over at the Kop end summed that up.
Joel Matip – 8
Matip remains far and away the Reds’ best centre-back, and he was a towering figure at the heart of the defence.
Up against Giroud, the Cameroonian won the aerial battle, while his quality on the ball caught the eye.
Should have scored with a second-half header, but made a vital late block to deny Alexis Sanchez.
Ragnar Klavan – 8
He wasn’t called into action a huge amount, but whenever he was, he did it with efficiency. Must now keep his place.
James Milner – 7.5
Like Clyne, Milner has been poor of late, but he was far more involved against Arsene Wenger’s side from his auxiliary left-back role.
Emre Can – 8
Can has come in for plenty of criticism this season, but this was a much improved, mature showing from the young German.
Occupying Jordan Henderson‘s deep-lying midfield role, he gave good cover to the defence and his physical presence ensured Liverpool bossed the midfield battle.
A couple of snide fouls showed his darker side, which was refreshing to see.
One of many woeful performers against Leicester City on Monday, Wijnaldum was highly impressive at Anfield, as he so often has been in big home matches in 2016/17.
His strength and intelligence off the ball caught the eye, but he was also more expansive in possession than we have seen at times.
Another who played an important role in Mane’s strike, and he capped off a great night with an inch-perfect finish in stoppage time.
Adam Lallana – 8.5
Is there a better presser of the ball in the league?
Lallana was superb all night, harassing Arsenal‘s players relentlessly and producing his usual moments of class when in possession.
This was the Lallana we saw back in the autumn – his work in the lead-up to Wijnaldum’s goal was absolutely magnificent.
Sadio Mane – 9 (Man of the Match)
Mane has been one of the signings of the season, and he once again showed that he is arguably Liverpool’s most important player now.
Some of his skill on show was magical, and he was the star man by a distance.
We have missed the dazzling, bordering-on-world-class Coutinho in the last month or so, but he was a joy to watch at times at Anfield.
His invention and unpredictability on the ball helped make the Reds tear the Gunners to shreds in the opening 45 minutes, and he was twice denied by Petr Cech.
This is the Coutinho we need to see between now and May. By far his best performances since returning from injury.
Roberto Firmino – 8.5
Firmino has taken some stick for some rather uninspiring performances, but he was purring on Saturday, in tandem with Mane and Coutinho.
The Brazilian opened the scoring from close-range to set Liverpool on their way to victory, and his movement, link-up play and work-rate were key in Jurgen Klopp‘s side dominating the contest.
Got a bit sloppy late on, but his hold up play was on the whole excellent. His ability in the air often goes unnoticed.
Divock Origi (on for Coutinho 79′) – 7
Hit the post with a header, and produced a great assist for Wijnaldum. A cameo that suggests he could be back in form.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (on for Mane 90′) – n/a
No time to make an impact.
Lucas Leiva (on for Lallana 90′) – n/a
Only on the pitch for seconds.
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Having cut a glum figure of late, Klopp had a great day at the office and got his tactics spot on in a big match yet again.
Picking Klavan instead of Lucas was a decision that paid off handsomely, and he got a much-needed response out of his players.
This was billed as a match-up between two under-fire managers, but Wenger is the only one under genuine pressure after Saturday’s match.