Arsenal fought gamely but class eventually told as we succumbed to defeat once again at Anfield.
Goals from Joel Matip in the first half and a second half brace from Mo Salah was enough to see the home side home and maintain their 100% record, despite a late goal from Lucas Torreira.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery went bold with his lineup and went for three in midfield, with Jo Willock, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi tasked with keeping a lid on Liverpool’s pressing tactics. Up top we had Dani Ceballos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang assisting Nicolas Pepe for his first Gunners start.
The first half saw Liverpool take the initiative in an attacking sense, and it wasn’t a surprise as it has been what they’ve done against us on many occasions. Our defence did an admirable job of keeping things tight though, restricting Klopp’s men to potshots and frustrated askew passes in our final third.
That isn’t to say they didn’t test Leno though. Firmino was taking up some threatening positions and was inches away from latching onto a Robertson cross and it was from out wide that the home side were getting plenty of joy. We couldn’t shut the channels down completely, and were concentrating our efforts on keeping the space centrally as tight as could be.
It was working to a degree too. We looked firmer than on recent trips to Anfield, and time was ticking on for the home side.
We weren’t without our moments either. Nicolas Pepe was a real menace and his pace and movement seemed to be the perfect outlet for the mounting pressure on us. Inches separated the record buy from his first goal in Arsenal colours, and on another occasion he couldn’t stretch Adrian in the Liverpool goal.
Then, just before half time, Liverpool had their lead, and from an unlikely source.
A Trent Alexander-Arnold corner was met by Joel Matip, and the defender’s header was too much for Leno.
That was pretty much it for the first half. We resisted strongly and posed enough problems to remain optimistic.
Trouble is, that hope would soon dissipate just minutes after the restart.
David Luiz had done well so far, but it was his stupid decision to pull back Salah’s short that gave the Reds a penalty to grab their second, which Salah didn’t waste.
Minutes later, the game was out of sight. Again, Luiz was involved. The Brazilian was easily sidestepped by Salah on his way to the box, and he once again found the net.
The game was done in the space of minutes, and it was down to two moments of weakness from our new defensive signing.
Emery chose that moment to switch Ceballos for Torreira and the game was pretty even at this moment, but Liverpool had lost some of their urgency, and we did grab a consolation when Auba found Torreira in the box and the Uruguayan slotted home to shrink the deficit.
There was precious little time for anything else and we had dropped our first points of the season.
The game had plenty going on, what can we take from the rubble left over from a loss?
Pepe Adapting Quickly
The winger was a real torment for Liverpool’s defence, and he repeatedly took players on. His pace was expertly suited to our counter-attacking tactics. Pepe will surely be a fixture from here, he was our danger man in some dangerous situations.
Midfield Three Away From Home?
Emery opted to go for three in the centre and it meant that through the middle, we were watertight. It did mean that Liverpool found lots of joy out wide. With Alexander-Arnold and Robertson being two of the most attacking full-backs in the league, it meant we were vulnerable from the off.
Plenty to Latch Onto
We created chances, we held firm for the majority. Yes, we had lapses, but on the most part we held them off. It’s a fine improvement from our recent games at Anfield, and at times we looked like we were cranking up pressure. In the majority of away games, this kind of display will be enough to take the points.
Ozil and Laca to Come
Both the German and our number nine were missing from the first team. If Emery can find a way to blend them into the current team with Auba and Pepe, our attack will be unstoppable – form permitting.
Next up is the North London derby. It doesn’t get any easier!