Liverpool: Matip 41’, Salah 48’ (PEN), 59’
Arsenal: Torreira 84’
Liverpool are looking to defend their home record against a good looking Arsenal team. Gomez starts on the bench, with Matip getting the nod in his stead. Mané starts, which is expected but still appreciated. The midfield trio of Wijnaldum, Henderson, and Fabinho will likely be Klopp’s preferred combination this season.
It’s all Liverpool in the first five minutes, with the Reds making some good crosses into the box that haven’t quite resulted in a goal. Liverpool are pressing hard and winning the ball back in strong positions.
Adrián makes a mistake in the 10th minute that nearly costs Liverpool the opening goal. He runs out off of his line to deal with Aubameyang’s run, only to fail to clear it. The resulting shot on the rebound luckily goes wide.
In the 20th minute, it’s Arsenal’s defense that has a near meltdown, nearly setting up Mané with a perfect pass in their own box. Unfortunately, Mane’s quick shot is right at Leno. Robertson has almost free reign down his flank, and he’s pinged in some excellent crosses that just need a toe on them.
Arsenal are playing compact and defensive, hoping to capitalize on Liverpool mistakes and score on the break. It nearly works in the 32nd minute when a Liverpool corner gets turned into an Arsenal fast break. Pepe speeds down the pitch one on one with the keeper, but Adrián does enough to block the shot, and then it’s cleared away by Henderson before Aubameyang can get to the rebound.
GOAL!!!! 41’ - Four corners in the last 10 minutes of the half finally reap a reward. On the fourth Alexander-Arnold sends it in and Matip jumps the highest and heads the ball in straight and true to give Liverpool the lead.
The goal has buoyed the Reds, who are pushing for a second in the dying minutes here. Several good opportunities have gone wasted as they just try to press their mental advantage here. A second goal before halftime would have been deserved, but it was ultimately not to be.
The goal in this second half will be to keep up the intensity as legs begin to tire. We’ll also see if Arsenal find a way to contain Liverpool on the flanks where they ran rampant in the first half.
Firmino nearly starts with a goal, but Leno saves the shot. That Gooner relief didn’t last long, however. David Luiz pulls on Salah’s shirt in the 47th minute, earning a yellow card and giving up a penalty, which Salah sets up to take.
GOALLL!! 48’ - Salah converts the penalty, and it’s a disastrous start for Arsenal, but a dream for the Reds.
Last ditch defending is the only thing preventing Liverpool from finding a third.
GOALLL!!!!! 59’ - A classic, gorgeous bit of play there leads to Liverpool’s third goal of the game. The play starts with Adrián getting it to Alexander-Arnold under pressure. The right back then finds Fabinho to break the pressure. Fabinho spots Salah upfield and gets a pass right to his feet. Salah then flows effortlessly past Luiz to get free in Arsenal’s half, and he slots the ball home for a picture perfect goal.
Someone smarter than me needs to explain why Unai Emery has set up his team to concede both wings to the best set of fullbacks in world football. Truly, what is the thought process? And after the first half, how do you not tweak your tactics for the last 45 minutes?
Gini Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané replaced by James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for some fresh legs in the last 20 minutes or so of the match.
Goal 84’ - Substitute Lucas Torreira gets a goal on a ricochet in the last five minutes of the game, deflating the atmosphere a bit. It’s conspicuous that Liverpool have yet to keep a clean sheet this season, though I suppose that is to be expected under the circumstances. Not loving how this game is ending though.
The offside flag lets Liverpool off the hook as Arsenal tried to build the pressure off of that first goal.
The last substitute of the afternoon for Liverpool is Adam Lallana, who relieves Roberto Firmino.
It’s nine points out of nine for Liverpool, who are now alone on top of the table in the very early stages of the season. Their inability to keep a clean sheet is something we may just need to hold our breath and accept until Alisson has returned to the team. Still, a win against Arsenal, no matter how it happens, is a reason to be happy.