Salah's double helps Liverpool sink Arsenal
|(Joel Matip 41, Mohamed Salah
|(Lucas Torreira 84)|
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp lauded his side’s desire for more success as they soared clear at the top of the English Premier League with a 3-1 win over Arsenal, thanks to Mohamed Salah’s double on Sunday morning (Aug 25, Singapore time).
Klopp’s men lifted the Champions League last season, but narrowly missed out on a first EPL title in 29 years to Manchester City by one point.
Liverpool and City look set to do battle for the title again, but the Reds opened up an early five-point lead over the champions, who face Bournemouth on Sunday, with a dominant display over the Gunners.
“A brilliant game from my side so early in the season,” said Klopp.
“Outstanding. A performance full of power, full of energy, full of greed, full of passion. That’s what you need against such a good team like Arsenal.”
Both sides started with the only 100 per cent records left in England’s top-flight, but Liverpool demonstrated the chasm that still exists behind them and City.
Arsenal have now lost their last three visits to Anfield by a combined score of 12-2 and early-season optimism was snuffed out despite promising signs from club record signing Nicolas Pepe.
The Ivorian was handed his first start since a £72 million (S$122.7m) move from Lille and showed why he was so coveted by posing a constant threat on the counter-attack.
Liverpool were camped in the Gunners’ half for the opening 10 minutes, but the visitors were nearly gifted the lead when Adrian, deputising for the injured Alisson in goal, got in Virgil van Dijk’s way as he dealt with a hopeful long ball for Pepe.
The Spanish stopper was at fault for Southampton’s consolation in a 2-1 Liverpool win last weekend, but escaped this time as the ball fell to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his chipped effort drifted inches wide.
Pepe then became the first player to dribble past van Dijk in the EPL for nearly 18 months as he showed his blistering pace and sent a curling effort from outside the area just wide.
But his big chance to change the course of the game came when he skilfully dribbled past Andy Robertson to burst clear on goal, but his shot was weak and easily saved by Adrian.
“Liverpool are doing amazing (things) for many years, but I think if we had scored first, it could be another game,” said Arsenal centre-back David Luiz, who then endured a torrid second half.
Liverpool cranked up the pressure before half-time and got the breakthrough on 41 minutes when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was met powerful by Joel Matip’s header.
Once in front, the European champions showed their class to roll through the gears in the second half and to hand Arsenal another Anfield beating.
Questions will be asked of the imbalance in the Gunners’ recruitment strategy as they spent big on Pepe for an already fearsome forward line including Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, who started on the bench, but waited until deadline day to sign a much-needed centre-back in Luiz.
The Brazilian showed why Chelsea were not desperate to keep hold on him as he hauled back Salah to concede a soft penalty, which the Egyptian emphatically converted in the 49th minute.
Nine minutes later, Arsenal’s new centre-back was embarrassed once more as Salah raced onto Fabinho’s pass, beyond Luiz who did not want to dive in and see a second yellow card, before curling clinically into the far corner.
“Mo’s third goal was absolutely amazing, but the pedigree of the boys is sensational,” added Klopp.
“Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today.”
With still half an hour to play, Unai Emery’s men could have folded but, to their credit, they stayed in the game and got their reward six minutes from time when substitute Lucas Torreira fired home at the second attempt from Aubameyang’s cut-back.
“Our reaction after was good,” said Emery. “That is the spirit I want.” – AFP