Starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck
Subs: Ospina, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Coquelin, Walcott, Giroud, Lacazette
Liverpool condemned Arsenal to their second defeat of the new season with a comprehensive 4-0 thumping at Anfield.
Roberto Firmino opened the scoring with a flicked header, Sadio Mane curled home five minutes before the break before Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge added further gloss in the second half. The Gunners were awful throughout the game and could easily have lost by a bigger margin.
Arsenal have played badly at Anfield before but this first half performance must rate as one of the worst. It was 45 minutes of torture for Gunners fans as the men in blue chased shadows. In fairness, ‘chased’ probably isn’t the right word as it infers a level of urgency. There was none of that from Arsene Wenger’s men.
With Mane and Salah stretching the flanks and Firmino in tricksy mood in the middle, Liverpool found it very easy to get in behind the Arsenal defence time and time again.
Can signalled the home side’s intent with an early header that flew wide before Klopp’s men cranked up the pressure. Salah really should have broken the deadlock on 10 minutes when he met a Can cross at the back post but somehow from just three yards out he shot straight at Cech; it was a fine save from the keeper.
Six minutes later and Liverpool got the goal their total domination deserved. A Gomez cross from the right found Firmino gliding into the box unmarked and the Brazilian glanced home past Cech. (1-0)
Replays showed Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain with their backs to the action in the build-up. They seemingly hadn’t realised the game had restarted and by the time they did, the ball was in the back of the net.
Henderson should have doubled the lead two minutes later as Firmino slipped him one-on-one with Cech after dispossessing Ozil in the midfield. His chip over the keeper didn’t have enough pace and was cleared.
Salah and Mane had further chances before the latter capitalised on a swift break to curl a beauty past Cech to double the lead. The Senegal international running at Holding from the left simply cut inside his man and found the far corner past the despairing dive of Cech. It was all so easy for the Reds. (2-0)
At the other, Arsenal were woeful. There was one chance in the opening six minutes when Sanchez fed Welbeck but as is so often the case he fluffed his lines and shot over.
The half time whistle came as a blessed relief.
There was a bit more bite to the Arsenal challenges in the opening stages of the second period but stupid mistakes were still abundant even though we switched to four at the back and had Coquelin on instead of Ramsey.
Monreal was guilty of giving the ball straight to Salah who raced goalwards and shot straight at Cech, Henderson hit the rebound over.
Salah wasn’t to be so profligate when Arsenal handed him yet another chance. An Arsenal corner cleared to the halfway line should have been dealt with by Bellerin, instead the Spaniard lost the ball to Salah who raced 50 yards towards Cech and then slid the ball past him. (3-0)
With the game gone, Wenger threw on Giroud and Lacazette in place of Chamberlain and Sanchez. The two Frenchman combined on 68 minutes as the Gunners went in search of a consolation but our new boy, seemingly inspired by Welbeck, scuffed his effort wide.
Mane nearly added a fourth as he pounced on Holding nervousness. The ball looped over Cech and dribbled goalwards before Bellerin scrambled clear. The reprieve was short lived as Sturridge came off the bench to head home a Salah cross from close range on 78 minutes. (4-0)
On Sky Sports, Gary Neville repeatedly described Arsenal’s performance as disgraceful. It’s hard to disagree or come up with a more apt description.
We now head into an Interlull and the final five days of the transfer window. Changes are needed but it’s hard to imagine we’ve got the balls to make enough of them to make a difference. It’s hard not to fear for the season ahead.