Liverpool offered a timely reminder of just how substantial the gulf in class between themselves and the rest of the Premier League is with a 3-1 victory over a very decent Arsenal side.
Question marks have been thrown at Jurgen Klopp’s side seemingly ever since they lifted their maiden Premier League title; can they do it all over again? How can they repeat last season’s antics? Will they remain motivated after such an exhaustive title-winning effort?
Their defensive performance against Leeds in their opening match of the 2020/21 campaign only stoked concerns that they would not be quite as unbeatable this time around, but after last weekend’s performance against Chelsea and Monday night’s result and display against Arsenal – coupled with Manchester City’s capitulation against Leicester – Liverpool have demonstrated that they are still the team to beat this season.
Monday evening’s victory over Arsenal was particularly impressive given the stature of opposition. Mikel Arteta’s side are currently one of the Premier League’s form teams, beating the Reds on penalties in the Community Shield final less than a month ago.
This was not a bad performance from Arsenal either, who confidently played out from the back from start to finish and beat the Liverpool press emphatically to open the scoring. Although the mistake from Robinson and finish from Alexandre Lacazette were scruffy, this should not take away from what a slick Arsenal move it was to begin with, showing just what this Gunners side were capable of.
But Liverpool primarily prevented Arsenal from playing through them like this. The goal had come against the run of play, with the Reds camped in the visitor’s half for most of the first period.
And the response to going a goal down was instant. Within 10 minutes of conceding the opening goal, Liverpool were 2-1 up. This is a side who do not like losing. This is not a side who have lost their winning mentality and become a soft touch now the Premier League trophy is in the cabinet.
These were classic Liverpool goals too – Klopp’s side at their best. The fizzing energy of Mohamed Salah to worm his way past Kieran Tierney for Sadio Mane’s first, followed by the quality of delivery from Trent Alexander-Arnold and the desire of Robertson to latch onto his inch perfect cross.
Alexander-Arnold’s stunning distribution was a constant all evening, his slightly shaky defensive display against Leeds becoming more and more of a distant memory with each pinpoint delivery.
Arsenal should have equalised in the second half but Alisson once again proved his importance for Liverpool with a big save to deny Lacazette, before new signing Diego Jota popped up with a very well taken goal to assure the Reds of all three points. You get the sense the former Wolves man could be another astute signing who Klopp manages to squeeze the absolute very best out of.
This was a slick Liverpool performance, and even more impressive considering Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson were absent through injury.
The speed at which they bounced back from going a goal down was in stark contrast to the manner in which Manchester City just melted away against Leicester on Sunday, demonstrating that this Liverpool side are just as hungry, just as motivated and just as ruthless as ever.
Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa