Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
Premier League, Anfield
September 28, 2020
Goals: Mane 28′, Robertson 34′, Jota 88′; Lacazette 25′
Salah & Mane star
It was Salah’s breathtaking turn of pace and shot and that led to Mane drawing Liverpool level in the first half, highlighting the Egyptian’s brute strength.
Both caused Arsenal‘s wing-backs an endless string of headaches, and if Salah was slightly more muted after the break, Mane was sensational.
The Senegalese’s balance and unpredictability were a joy to watch and his battling qualities stood out yet again. He deserved more than one goal.
Roberto Firmino was quiet, and is still well short of top form, but the two either side of him were unplayable on the night.
Fab shines back in midfield
The Brazilian was back in his favoured No. 6 role on Monday, though, and he put together a sublime performance at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield.
From minute one he was both biting into tackles and dictating the rhythm of his side’s play, proving to be every bit the “lighthouse” that Pep Lijnders once described him as.
It was impossible to fault anything Fabinho did throughout the evening, and while others stood out more in terms of flamboyance, he kept everything ticking over in metronomic fashion.
Forget about using Fabinho regularly in defence – midfield is where he belongs, unless there is an injury crisis.
Another promising Keita showing
There has always been a feeling that the 25-year-old just needed a spell in the side to properly find his feet and he is now reaping those rewards.
Keita was a key cog in the machine against Arsenal, in what was an all-conquering Liverpool display, knitting things together nicely and showing more attacking intent than in the first two league outings.
There was purpose in his use of the ball, but most importantly, he now looks like a player perfectly in-tune with Jurgen Klopp‘s style of play.
Granted, we aren’t seeing the match-changing, man-of-the-match outings that many expected to see from Keita, but is that what Klopp really wants?
The German’s requirements in his midfielders revolve around intelligence, consistency and simply doing your job – something Keita is doing increasingly well by the week.
Jota makes a flying start
One of Liverpool’s shortcomings – there aren’t many, let’s be honest – has been a noticeable dropoff in quality behind the front three.
While Salah, Mane and Firmino are a world-class trio, their replacements have too often not filled the gaping void they leave behind.
Jota has been brought in to help eradicate that issue and the Portuguese made the perfect start to life at Anfield.
It could have been easy to question Klopp’s decision to substitute the rampant Mane, but within minutes Jota had fired home his maiden Reds goal in front of the Kop, finishing off a dogged Arsenal in the process.
It was only a brief cameo – he could have scored twice had Salah not nabbed the ball from his toes on one occasion – but it is immediately clear to see what he will bring to the side, namely speed and a constant goal threat.
All of a sudden, Liverpool have a top-class option putting pressure on their attack.
All eyes were on Monday’s eagerly anticipated clash between two sides with 100 percent records, as Arsenal tried to show they are genuine title contenders.
On this evidence, however, Liverpool are in a class of their own, comprehensively outplaying their opponents with a masterclass of measured, quality-laden football.
Andy Robertson gifted Alexandre Lacazette the opening goal, but the champions never panicked and turned the game the around with total ease. It never felt in doubt.
Lacazette may have squandered a golden chance to equalise in the second half – Alisson, back to his best, made a great stop – but this was men vs. boys and Klopp’s men were a joy to watch.
Even Gary Neville loves them, which speaks volumes!
On this form, nobody can touch Liverpool and the rest of the league must have been watching on thinking back-to-back titles looks almost inevitable.
It is still very early days, of course, but it feels as though only injuries to key man can halt what looks like an unstoppable march to league title number 20.