28 September | Anfield | Liverpool 3 – 1 Arsenal
News broke early that there was a chance we would not field Alisson… find me the big red panic button. Not to worry – the big man was in net, and the rest of the team was humming.
I can remember thinking about how important an early goal against Arsenal would be. They looked like Chelsea, comfortable sitting back, packing guys behind the ball, and attempting to counterattack. For the first twenty minutes of the game Liverpool were playing with an undeniable swagger – a swagger I do not remember seeing since before Project Restart.
And with all this swagger and great play, in the 25th minute, Arsenal had their first big chance on a counter. Lacazette fluffed his line, yet somehow the ball still ended up in the back of the net. Finding themselves down a goal, Liverpool are known for responding quickly… and that is exactly what they did.
Three minutes later, at the end of scintillating build-up play, Salah drove the byline and fired across the face of goal. Leno could only slightly deflect the ball, leaving the ball bouncing in front of goal, and Mane was there to pick his mate up. Easy! After the Mane goal, Liverpool continued to pile the pressure on Arsenal. It was clear they wanted another.
And they did not have to wait very long for another: only five minutes later in the 33rd minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold pumped in a great cross to an alert Andy Robertson at the back post. Robbo tucked it home – “how ya doing, keep it moving!” 2-1 to Liverpool.
The entire first half was, in my opinion, the best half of football Liverpool have played since Project Restart. The first half stats were staggering: 70% of the possession in the half (that is 31.5 minutes on the ball!), Liverpool took 11 shots to Arsenal’s solitary effort. And those are only a fraction of the statistics that exemplify the Reds’ domination. Are the inevitable Liverpool of last season officially back? Let’s hope so!
In the second half, Liverpool did what they needed to do. Already up a goal, they continued to apply pressure on the Arsenal backline, they were suffocating in their pressing, and overall looked to have total control of the match. Similar to the first half, Arsenal had a few chances to break out, and when they did, they were met by our Brazilian brick wall. Alisson made two brilliant saves in the second half (albeit one that would have been correctly flagged for offsides), stifling Arsenal’s attack. Lacazette would be later taken off after failing to capitalize on two one-on-one chances.
At some point in the second half (around 75′) it looked like Arsenal was content to pack in their defense and keep Liverpool from scoring another. However, the Gunners could not stop the momentum. Diogo Jota made his Liverpool debut, and it was marked with a wonderful goal.
Realistically, Jota could have had a couple of goals in his short time on the pitch. He sent one into the side netting, had one taken off his foot by Mo, and finally nestled one into the bottom corner on perhaps his most difficult of the three chances. After a poor clearance by David Luiz in the 88th minute, Jota brought the ball down nicely at the top of the area and finished it with composure. Goal to the Reds, who were now up 3-1, which proved to be the final score line.
While the second half was nowhere near as exciting as the first, I take this as a good sign: Liverpool did what they needed to do in order to see out the victory. Would we have liked to see more goals from the boys? Of course, but the most important thing is the three points.
Jurgen has the team humming again. After a shaky start against Leeds in the first match, both Chelsea and Arsenal have been brushed away with such class and ruthlessness. They are definitely on the right track moving forward.
Until the weekend, YNWA!