Liverpool showed yet again how they are able to take down the big guns in the league, as they dismantled a poor Arsenal side and gained a well-deserved victory.
As the Liverpool fans were basking in glory over their 3-1 win approaching the full-time whistle, belting out You’ll Never Walk Alone, few had their minds on the same score-line which was illustrated by a dismal display just five days earlier at the King Power Stadium.
But is it something which needs to be looked at further?
The Reds have the best record in the mini league between the top six in the league, with 19 points won from games played between the sides this campaign as well as remaining undefeated ( 5 wins, 4 draws). Liverpool’s opposition yesterday evening, are last in that table, with just five points to their name in games against the top six.
Liverpool seem to turn into a different monster as soon as they play the so called ‘big teams’, especially at Anfield, but why can’t they replicate this form week in, week out?
The defeat at the hands of Leicester had an air of familiarity to it; it was almost expected in a sense. The smaller sides have worked out how to combat Liverpool’s high pressing and attacking power , meaning they are happy to counteract this all game.
This may be something Jürgen Klopp needs to start taking slightly more seriously now, the Liverpool manager described in a press conference before their 2-0 win over Spurs how he was “ dreaming of winning 14 games” in reference to the amount of fixtures left before the Spurs encounter. This dream has already been shattered by the Foxes, who pounced on the defensive vulnerabilities and poor decision making on show on Monday night.
The game against Arsenal was a must win for the Reds to keep their top four hopes alive.
As the team news was announced yesterday, many were left confused as to why Arsene Wenger had left top scorer, Alexis Sanchez, on the bench. It was a move that proved to be pivotal in the match.
Klopp’s men took the lead after just nine minutes. Simon Mignolet’s long ball down field was met by Philippe Coutinho, who then combined with Sadio Mane; the Senegalese international drilled a ball into the box and found the former Hoffenheim player, Roberto Firmino, the Brazilian was on hand to convert precisely into the roof of the net.
Liverpool’s high energy start saw memories flooding back of the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal here just three years ago. Pace, power, and pressing: The three key elements in an electric home performance.
Klopp’s side doubled their lead five minutes before the break, this time it was the main man of the season- Sadio Mane. Goal scorer of the first, turned provider, as Firmino saw Mane unmarked waiting on hand at the back post. His low drive into the bottom left corner saw him collect his 12th league goal of the season and left Arsenal players and supporters alike, dejected.
Wenger’s plan to leave out Sanchez was abandoned as he called the Chilean on for the second half in a bid to revive their hope of getting something out of the match.
Arsenal started the second half much better, and were beginning to find their rhythm. They had their first real chance at goal when Olivier Giroud’s header forced Mignolet into making a tremendous save which saw the Frenchman’s effort tipped onto the bar, in the end the danger was averted.
The visitors finally found a way in though, just before the hour mark. Danny Welbeck cooly chipped the ball over Mignolet in goal, who came rushing out after spotting the run of the England international. Welbeck was discovered perfectly by the substitute and game changer, Alexis Sanchez.
There was hope now that they could go on and get another goal. Wenger’s side responded well after a poor first half and now against the odds, had the home side worried. Liverpool’s first half dominance had filtered out and now the nerves were starting to kick in within the ground. With just a couple of minutes to go however, the anxiety that was mounting was eradicated.
A last-ditch Arsenal attack, which saw Sanchez’s effort thwarted by Joel Matip , sparked a counter attack for the home side. Lallana picked the ball up and nice footwork from the attacking midfielder enabled him to play a ball out on the wing to substitute, Divock Origi. The Belgian forward played a ball into the box and located the run of summer signing, Gini Wijnaldum.
The man for the big game was present again! Having already netted against Manchester City and Chelsea, the midfielder added another against the Gunners. His effort was placed carefully into the bottom corner and left Petr Cech hopeless.
The ever changing Liverpool reverted back to their unstoppable nature against their North London opposition, but you just wonder when it will be before we see the pendulum switch back to the unreliable, sloppy, and feeble side which has cropped up against the lesser sides.
Klopp must find a way to remove the dual identity to his side, which can seem unexplainably dissimilar from one week to the next, if Liverpool are to get back to greatness in the coming years.
By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old.