Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his side “do not need to excite everyone in every second” after a comfortable victory over Arsenal maintained their place at the top of the Premier League.
The Reds also preserved their 100% start to the Premier League season as Mohamed Salah scored twice to add to Joel Matip’s first-half header in a dominant performance at Anfield.
“It was a performance full of power, energy, greed and passion, which I think you need against a team like Arsenal.” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47% or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. We were completely in charge of the game.
“We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.”
The Gunners, the only other side in the top flight to win their first two games, had opportunities to shock Liverpool in a tight first half, especially when record £72m signing Nicolas Pepe shot straight at keeper Adrian after running clear.
Liverpool took control when Matip put them ahead with a powerful header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner four minutes before the interval.
And any hopes manager Unai Emery had of watching his side mount a recovery were snuffed out in the 49th minute after a moment of madness from new signing David Luiz, who needlessly dragged Salah back in the area.
Liverpool’s Egyptian attacker drilled home the penalty and then embarrassed Luiz again out on the touchline at the start of a dazzling run that ended with a low, curling finish into the bottom corner just before the hour.
Arsenal substitute Lucas Torreira pulled one back late on, but nothing was getting in the way of Liverpool’s 12th successive league victory, equalling their best sequence in the top flight under Kenny Dalglish between April and October 1990.
Liverpool back in the old routine
Liverpool had moments when they stuttered against Southampton and their defence has looked unusually fallible – but this was a movie we have seen many times before at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp.
Arsenal have suffered badly here in recent seasons, losing 5-1 last season and 4-0 in Arsene Wenger’s final season. Once again, despite taking their time to hit top gear, Liverpool’s ruthlessness and intensity simply proved too much for Arsenal.
True, they gratefully accepted Luiz’s gifts but once Matip put Liverpool ahead the pressure and intensity applied to Arsenal was simply too much for the Gunners to resist.
And, as Arsenal discovered, when you fail to take chances to punish Liverpool, the inevitable outcome is that you will be punished yourselves.
Liverpool do not simply have a prodigious work ethic that makes life permanently uncomfortable for opponents; they also have world-class attacking options as illustrated by Salah’s brilliant weaving run and slide-rule finish for their third.
Klopp’s side missed out on the title by a single point despite only one loss, to champions Manchester City, last season – and three wins from three has quickly put the marker down that they intend to go one better and claim that first title in 30 years.
Liability Luiz kills Arsenal chances
Luiz has a track record of success that suggests he may be able to bring moments of quality to Arsenal’s defence after his surprise £8m move from Chelsea – but there is no escaping he has the enduring capability to be a complete liability.
The Brazilian, at 32, is not going to change and so it proved as he delivered a moment of crass stupidity that killed stone dead Arsenal’s hopes of taking anything away from Anfield.
It is a stretch to say Arsenal had Liverpool on the ropes but, despite the overall domination of the European champions, the Gunners certainly had moments of threat through the pace and menace of Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They would have started the second half with hope.
Luiz made it all count for nothing when he felt his best method of dealing with Salah’s 49th-minute raid into the penalty area was to blatantly drag him back by the shirt in a red-mist moment that did not even seriously require the intervention of the video assistant referee.
Salah, despite some ludicrous protests from Luiz, drilled home the penalty before taking him to cleaners when scoring Liverpool’s brilliant third.
Too much of the Arsenal’s playing out from the back was asking for trouble against this Liverpool side. Throw in the act of stupidity from Luiz and ultimately they got what they deserved, despite some areas for Emery to admire.
“We were doing some transitions very good and we had some chances but, in the second half, the penalty was very soft,” Emery told BBC Match of the Day.
“After 2-0 our reaction was good. We needed to attack and take a different moment in the match. We are disappointed we lost 3-1 but watching some players we can be optimistic.
“We need to improve in possession and countering the pressure but Liverpool is the best team with this. We have to be realistic but we can fight closer to them.”
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Arsenal’s Liverpool woe – the stats
- Since Jurgen Klopp took over in October 2015, Liverpool have scored 26 goals in eight Premier League games against Arsenal – the most one side has netted against another in the competition in that period.
- Only Everton at Arsenal (64) have conceded more away goals against a single opponent in the Premier League than Arsenal at Liverpool (62).
- Arsenal have now failed to win any of their past 23 away league games against fellow ‘Big six’ sides (D8 L15) – during this run they have conceded 53 goals while keeping just one clean sheet.
- Since the start of last season, Arsenal have given away eight Premier League penalties – only Brighton (10) have faced more.
- Liverpool have scored 22 headed goals in the Premier League since the start of last season; seven more than any other side. The Reds have scored three in this campaign already, while no other side has scored more than one.
- Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has faced Arsenal eight times without defeat in the Premier League (W5 D3).
- Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Arsenal than against any other side (eight; six goals and two assists). He has scored in all four of his home games against them.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted nine goals in his past 10 appearances at Anfield for Liverpool in all competitions, including assisting once in each of his past five competitive home games.
- Nicolas Pepe has become the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the Dutch defender’s past 50 appearances in the Premier League, since Mikel Merino in March 2018 for Newcastle.
Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny is “very hurt” by his conflict with the club, his friend and former team-mate Olivier Giroud has told the BBC.
The 32-year-old has won the FA Cup and Europa League with the Blues, as well as helping the side reach last season’s Carabao Cup final.
“I didn’t want to leave,” Giroud said.
“I spoke with the boss – at this time, Arsene [Wenger] – and I told him: ‘Look, gaffer, I need some game time to play at the World Cup, that’s massive for me.’
“At the end of the day, we won it, so it was very important for me to leave.
“It was tough for me, but it was amazing to sign for a club like Chelsea. It was like an improvement for me because – OK, it’s Manchester City now – but Chelsea have been the best club in England over the past 10 years.
“It was a new challenge with big motivation, big targets.”
After 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League, Arsenal face a third year in the Europa League and are operating with a restricted budget in the transfer market as a result.
On Monday, a group of 16 prominent supporters’ groups and bloggers signed a letter calling on Gunners owner Stan Kroenke to “reinvigorate” the club.
Giroud expressed sympathy – “I can understand the fans” – and said there is perhaps a difference in mindset between his previous and current employers.
“With Arsenal it was difficult to fight for the title. We were always fighting for the Champions League places,” he said. “I won a few FA Cups and Community Shields. When you can’t win the league, winning the FA Cup is quite nice, so I’ve got amazing memories.
“Chelsea is a club where you have maybe more expectations, higher expectations. They were winning more titles these past 10 years and obviously Arsenal wants to come back to the ‘Invincibles’ days, but it’s not easy.
“I’m not going to say we are doing things better at Chelsea. We just try to be as competitive as we can, to step up and win more trophies.”
When asked if it could be a mentality issue, Giroud replied: “Maybe.
“In football, for me, it’s two-thirds of the quality you need to have. I’ve seen so many talented players – but without mental strength they can’t step up and get out of their comfort zone. Mental strength is massive in football and sport in general.”
‘We can compete for title despite transfer ban’
This summer, Chelsea triggered an option to extend Giroud’s stay at Stamford Bridge by 12 months and, despite the club being banned from signing players for two transfer windows, the France international is confident they can compete for honours under new boss Frank Lampard.
“He’s a proper Chelsea legend,” Giroud added. “As a player, he was an example for the young players and the fans. He loves the badge and the club, so I think he is the right person.
“He’s coming with big energy and we are working very hard, and in a good way.
“I think he’s got the squad to compete in the different competitions this year.
“Many young players sometimes have to go on loan to get some game time. This transfer ban gives them an opportunity to play more, show their qualities and – honestly, trust me – we’ve got plenty of young, talented players at Chelsea.
“The Champions League is very tough. We’ve got a talented squad, but it’s quite young. Everybody knows the Champions League is a lot about experience.
“We’re going to fight in every competition – but the main target will be to compete with City and Liverpool for the Premier League title.”