Liverpool put up a superlative first half display on Saturday to outshine Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield and dent the capital club’s hopes of challenging for the Premier League title. Roberto Firmino (9th minute) and Sadio Mane (40th) gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before Danny Welbeck (57th) reduced Arsenal’s deficit in the second half.
Moments after Arsenal sub Alexis Sanchez had an effort blocked at the other end, Liverpool broke with pace and Georginio Wijnaldum sealed the game in Liverpool’s favour in injury time, sending the Reds up to third spot.
For Liverpool, who were coming off a 1-3 loss to Leicester City, the win boosted their points tally to 52 from 27 matches. Manchester City also have 52 points, however have played two matches less.
The Liverpool win was created by a brilliant first half against an Arsenal team which was surprisingly without Chile forward Alexis Sanchez.
The hosts got off a superb start as Firmino fired into the roof of the net from the left following a mishit shot from Sadio Mane which reached the Brazilian through an array of legs.
Mane was at it again and this time he finished with a strong drive from a perfect pass from Firmino to make it 2-0.
Arsenal, trailing 0-2, fielded Sanchez at the start of the second half and the visitors looked slightly better. They halved the deficit in the 57th minute as Welbeck was put through by Sanchez from the left and he fended off an advancing goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal enjoyed some good moments following the goal but Liverpool kept coming at them. Joel Matip failed to head home from Philippe Coutinho’s perfect free-kick to the far post 15 minutes from time.
Liverpool substitute forward Divock Origi went close when his downward header bounced off the post. Origi later assisted in the injury time for a goal to Wijnaldum that made it 3-1 for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
The loss meant that Arsenal are fifth with 50 points from 26 games and they are one place above Manchester United.
Klopp rated his team’s performance as “absolutely spot-on”. “First of all, we were absolutely spot-on from the first second in the game. We played a wonderful first half,” Klopp told Liverpool website.
His Arsenal counterpart, Wenger regretted that his side was not creative enough. “We didn’t create many chances. We had some dangerous situations and we didn’t make enough of our corners,” he said, according to Arsenal’s website.
“We had good situations on corners where we didn’t do very well on the delivery. With the players we had on the pitch, we should have made more of these opportunities because Liverpool are vulnerable from corners.”