Liverpool responded to their setback at West Ham with a sublime performance on their return to Anfield, putting an in-form Arsenal to the sword to the tune of 4-0.
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal
Premier League (12), Anfield
November 20, 2021
Mane 39′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Jota 52′ (assist – Tavares)
Salah 73′ (assist – Mane)
Minamino 77′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
After the shock of a 3-2 loss to West Ham and a two-week break for internationals, it was almost understandable that things started a little flat at Anfield.
Arsenal had the best of the chances in the opening 20 minutes, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – making a third consecutive start for the first time since the start of 2020 – required to block Bukayo Saka’s header.
The Reds grew into the game, though, with Oxlade-Chamberlain looking to use his explosiveness as Liverpool funnelled their play through the triangle of him, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
On the other flank, Sadio Mane – perhaps feeling the effects of his bruised rib, sustained on Senegal duty – had a struggling start, with the No. 10 thwarted by a double save from Aaron Ramsdale as he slipped in trying to follow up on a Thiago volley.
A spat between Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta injected life into the game, and Ramsdale was required to keep Salah and Alexander-Arnold at bay soon after, as the Anfield crowd roared on every shot, dribble and tackle.
Ramsdale was less convincing soon after, though, with the Arsenal goalkeeper only able to flap his left hand at the ball as Mane rose highest to nod in Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick for 1-0.
HT: Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal
The message from Klopp at half-time will have been: more of the same, don’t let the concentration slip, punish those mistakes from a small-time Arsenal side.
Liverpool rewarded him, then, as they kept up the intensity after the break, with Diogo Jota the beneficiary of a sloppy backpass from Nuno Tavares before he sat Ramsdale down and converted with ease.
Arsenal showed some spirit as they pushed forward to reduce the deficit, but the imperious presence of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk kept them out, while Salah almost set up another for Jota in the 68th minute.
A stunning breakaway gave Liverpool their third, with Jota heading a long ball into Mane’s path, and with the winger racing forward he laid it across for Salah to tap in and ensure a goal for each of Klopp’s strikers.
The first changes then came, as Jota and Oxlade-Chamberlain were given a standing ovation from almost all of Anfield as they were replaced by Jordan Henderson and Takumi Minamino – who scored with his first touch of the game.
Arsenal were all over the place as Liverpool’s forwards interchanged again, and with Salah threaded it through for the overlapping Alexander-Arnold, the No. 66 then drilled it across the six-yard box for Minamino to score his first Anfield goal.
On came Tyler Morton, then, for his Premier League debut, with the height of the Reds’ dominance allowing Klopp to turn to the youngsters on his bench, having named all of Morton, Kaide Gordon, Owen Beck and Conor Bradley in the 20-man squad.
Chants of “Liverpool, Liverpool taking the piss” rang around Anfield, as the side who began the weekend in danger of slipping down to fifth returned to second in the table and firmly into title contention.
TIA Man of the Match: Fabinho
Referee: Michael Oliver
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Henderson 76′), Thiago (Morton 84′); Salah, Mane, Jota (Minamino 76′)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Phillips, Bradley, Beck, Gordon
Arsenal: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Partey, Sambi (Maitland-Niles 53′); Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette (Odegaard 66′)
Subs not used: Leno, Cedric, Holding, Tierney, Elneny, Pepe, Martinelli
Next match: Porto (H) – Champions League – Wednesday, November 24, 8pm (GMT)