LIVERPOOL, England — Three quick thoughts from Anfield as Liverpool beat Arsenal 4-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.
1. Liverpool blow away sorry Arsenal
For the second time this week, Liverpool’s attacking unit made extremely light work of a vulnerable opponent. Liverpool quite simply proved they are everything Arsenal are not. This was an inspired, attacking and resilient performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side, similar to their manhandling of Hoffenheim on Wednesday. The way they attack with speed is something to behold, and their hunger to add to the scoreline will lead to further results like this over the course of the season.
Liverpool head into the international break unbeaten, having juggled well with their schedule of European and domestic football.
For Arsenal, well, they should already be pondering the decision to hand manager Arsene Wenger a two-year contract extension. Without the late show against Leicester City to open the Premier League season, the Gunners would be without a win after three games.
Results like this one are far too common, and the lethargic nature of Arsenal’s performance should raise alarm bells about the players’ commitment to a sorry cause.
There were four different goal-scorers for Liverpool — Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and second-half substitute Daniel Sturridge — and there could, and probably should, have been many more.
Anfield is not a place Arsenal having enjoyed visiting recently. They last won here in September 2012 and have conceded 17 goals since that last win.
Arsenal came into the affair fresher after Liverpool’s midweek routing of Hoffenheim, but it did not show at all.
Liverpool were having joy out wide, exploiting the gaps in Arsenal’s back three. Ten minutes in, Petr Cech denied Salah brilliantly from close range following Emre Can’s cross.
Their next chance, again, came from a wide position, but this time Arsenal were made to pay. Joe Gomez, starting ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, accurately crossed for Firmino, who headed past Cech to put the hosts into the lead.
The domination continued as Arsenal were torn apart when Liverpool made it 2-0 from a simple counter-attack. A pass from Firmino to Mane saw the Senegalese winger square up Aaron Ramsey inside the penalty before curling a low shot into the far corner.
The reality is that Arsenal were fortunate to be heading into the half-time break just two goals down.
When Liverpool made it 3-0, only then did it truly reflect this limp Arsenal display. After clearing a Gunners corner, all Salah had to do was beat Hector Bellerin to the ball, sprint freely towards goal from deep within his own half and then keep his composure to beat Cech.
The fourth was just as simple and had the intensity of a training session, even though there were 13 minutes left to play. Liverpool easily worked possession out from the back before Salah turned provider and crossed for the sub Sturridge to nod it home.
2. Karius shaky as Liverpool record another shutout
Hours before the teamsheets for the match were released, speculation was rife about Klopp’s decision to “rest” Simon Mignolet in favour of Loris Karius. There wasn’t even a place on the bench for the Belgian, with Danny Ward taking a place on the substitutes’ bench as Liverpool’s backup goalkeeper.
The explanation from the Liverpool manager was questionable, given the international break follows and Mignolet serves as deputy to Thibaut Courtois for Belgium.
The sudden installation of Karius brought extra attention and scrutiny on his performance. Even during his warm-up, the television’s spidercam, used at Anfield for the first time, fixated heavily on the German’s movements.
Karius was relatively untroubled, as Arsenal failed to record a single shot on target. His distribution — which is said to be one of his strengths — however, was causing plenty of restlessness among the home crowd. In the first half, he was guilty of dawdling with the ball at his feet, but escaped despite Danny Welbeck’s best efforts in charging him down. A similar incident occurred again, only for Karius to catch another break. He could have been on back pages for his errors on another day.
His uncertainty did little to put faith within Liverpool’s defence, which has come under intense criticism this season. The defenders in red, however, were rarely threatened on Sunday, and what they had to do, they did well. Critics aside, it’s back-to-back clean sheets in the league for Liverpool now. If they do bring in an elite centre-half, as Klopp so desires, then there’s no limit to how devastating Liverpool can be this season.
3. Wenger gets it wrong at Anfield again
Wenger returned to the scene of his very own crime after he left Alexis Sanchez out of his starting XI at Anfield for the 3-1 defeat back in March, only to bring on the Chilean at half-time and watch him pull Arsenal back into contention in a matter of moments.
He, again, left out one significant player out of his XI in the form of Alexandre Lacazette. As Sanchez returned from an abdominal strain, Lacazette, who has scored twice since his summer arrival from Lyon, made way, leaving the travelling Arsenal supporters inside Anfield astonished for the second consecutive time.
There was only one real chance for Lacazette’s replacement, Welbeck, in a quiet first half from an Arsenal attacking perspective. Questions needed to be asked at the break why Arsenal managed just one real opportunity against a shaky defence. Perhaps a world-class striker who costs north of £50 million would have helped though?
Lacazette and Olivier Giroud did appear after the hour mark, but the damage was done, and it was far too little far too late.
Some of the travelling support started to head for the exits after Salah’s goal, while a section of those that stayed voiced their displeasure towards the Arsenal manager. Both decisions were entirely understandable.
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.