LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool tore Arsenal apart with a devastating attacking display on Sunday, producing a 4-0 victory in the Premier League that exploited an error-strewn performance by the London club.
Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah spearheaded the powerful assault on the feeble visitors at Anfield. Humiliation for Arsenal was complete when Mane’s replacement, Daniel Sturridge, finished off yet another counterattack to net the fourth in the 78th minute.
“We wanted to show our desire, our greed, our ambitions against a very strong side,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “We didn’t think about winning the game, we thought about the performance. The performance was perfect and the result is the result of the performance.”
Arsenal didn’t even manage a single shot on goal, ensuring it was a quiet day for Loris Karius, who was unexpectedly selected ahead of first-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
“Today we were an easy opponent for Liverpool,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Asked what went wrong, Wenger said: “Everything.”
It was a complete and potent display by Liverpool, even without Philippe Coutinho on the pitch as the Brazilian still tries to force his way out of the club before the transfer window closes Thursday night.
Coutinho is chasing the major trophies eluding Liverpool for many years, with the league last won in 1990 and the Champions League in 2005.
While such a ruthless rout of Arsenal will raise expectations around Liverpool, it followed an underwhelming start to the league campaign that saw Klopp’s side draw the opener at Watford then claim a narrow win at Crystal Palace.
But victory capped a week when Liverpool secured its return to the Champions League after a three-year absence, a competition Arsenal will be missing from for the first time in 20 years.
Arsene Wenger secured a new Arsenal contract despite that Champions League qualification failure. But judging by the capitulation at Liverpool, with Arsenal’s shortcomings resurfacing for a second loss in three matches, it could be another troublesome season.
“I think from the first to the last minute we were not at the level requested for such a game — not physically, not technically, not mentally were we at the level, and we were punished,” Wenger said. “That’s basically it. You can analyze the chances we gave away. But I just think overall the performance was not at the requested level.”
Particularly not in the 17th minute when the opener was gifted. Firmino ghosted into the penalty area to meet Joe Gomez’s cross unmarked and sent a downward header past goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Even after conceding, Arsenal remained as chaotic and lethargic, never looking capable of mounting a comeback. The only surprise was it took until five minutes before halftime for Liverpool to extend its lead. A counterattack was launched from inside the Liverpool penalty area by Gomez, and following a string of slick passes it was completed by Mane’s shot into the far corner of the net.
Arsenal’s response was a change in midfield at halftime with Aaron Ramsey replaced by Francis Coquelin. Nothing changed. The third goal was conceded from a corner taken by Arsenal, with Salah dispossessing Hector Bellerin and given the freedom to dart forward unchallenged before the Egyptian netted his third Liverpool goal.
Salah turned provider for the fourth with a cross met by the unmarked Sturridge and headed past Cech. Arsenal’s misery was complete.
“We put them in ideal conditions,” Wenger said. “It raises many questions but I still believe that you have not to think these players are not good. They are good players. But it’s sure today we were not at the level.”
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