It’s Groundhog Day at Arsenal, after the usual loss at Stoke came the gutless first visit to a top 6 rival.
The build up was dominated by two selection shocks, Liverpool dropping of keeper Simon Mignolet and Arsenals’s of record signing Alexandre Lacazette.
The early skirmishes saw Arsenal struggle to cope with Liverpool’s pace and movement leading to an Emre Can header whilst Danny Welbeck blew a presentable chance for the gunners. On 10 minutes the ever dangerous Mo Saleh should have made the breakthrough with a close range effort saved by Petr Cech.
The inevitable Liverpool goal duly arrived after just 16 minutes, the inventive Can sent Joe Gomez away down the right and his inch perfect cross was nodded home by Roberto Firmino.
Arsenal looked toothless and Liverpool were threatening to run riot. But Arsenal got a foothold in the game via a typical Karius goalkeeping mix up that although cleared sent a shudder through the crowd and Liverpool defence.
But the nerves were short lived, on 40 minutes Liverpool broke from their own box through the power of Can then the pace of Firmino and finally the beautiful angled finish of Sadio Mane.
Coquelin came on at the start of the second half and Arsenal at least showed early bite and application, but the only threats to Karius’ goal were again self inflicted as Welbeck almost got in from a casual back pass.
But on 56 minutes Liverpool sealed the win when they broke from an Arsenal corner and the excellent Salah burned past the Arsenal defence and picked his spot 3-0.
From then on it was just a case of how many as Liverpool passed their way around the training cones in blue shirts posing as Arsenal’s midfield.
Daniel Sturridge came on after 73 minutes and 4 minutes later he’d scored after another devastating counter orchestrated by Firmino and Can and ending with a fizzing cross from Salah nodded home for Sturridge’s 99th Liverpool goal 4-0 and that’s how it finished.
For Liverpool early season scepticism has given way to euphoria having moved up to 2nd in the League and a new Champions League adventure ready to begin. If they could add a top class keeper say Jack Butland and a dominant centre half say a certain Southampton player they will be in title contention.
As for Arsenal the next phase of Groundhog Day will see a trolley dash this Thursday and the ‘Wenger Out’ banners adorning the Emirates Stadium.
There was little for Wenger to take from this, with only Welbeck showing any hunger or fight. Arsenal’s midfield simply didn’t track back and Alexis Sanchez looks to have given up.
Arsenal’s FA Cup final display illustrated there is a good side in there somewhere but whether it’s the manger, players or boardroom malaise there’s something fundamentally wrong, I doubt it can be fixed over the international break.
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)