Reds: Mané 28’, Robertson 34’, Jota 88’
Gunners: Lacazette 25’
Leicester City, with their frankly ridiculous +8 goal differential and 12 goals, is probably a bridge too far for these Reds to catch tonight. But Liverpool can realistically move into second place, and crucially gain 6 early points on Manchester City with a win tonight. Bonus: they get to move above the Ev. However, they have to overcome an Arsenal side that doesn’t look nearly as likely to fall to bits as recent iterations.
New signing Thiago is out, but Alisson passed the fitness test, as did Joe Gomez. Fabinho returns to midfield, and the rest of the XI is about as strong as you’d expect. It should be a cracking early-season match between the Reds and Gunners at Anfield.
Sadio Mané has come out hot, and is rightly booked after his second questionable foul in the opening three minutes. Loving the aggression, Sadio, but you’ll have to smarter than that if you want to stay on the pitch.
Other than Mané’s rash challenge(s), Liverpool have been moving the ball around with ease. Virgil Van Dijk has completed a few long balls over the top, which appears to be a weakness they’re trying to exploit.
Big chance! Some excellent work around the box produces a fantastic cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold. He picks out Mané who, unfortunately, fires his first time shot directly at the keeper.
OFF THE BAR! Liverpool go tantalizingly close to an opener! TAA connects on a shot from outside the box, it takes a deflection and hits the underside of the bar, before being cleared. Unlucky!
Arsenal cannot live with Liverpool’s press at the back, and cannot press with any effectiveness from the front. That said, Liverpool need to start putting these chances away.
Goal. Fuck. If you look up “against the run of play” you’ll see that goal. Arsenal do well to beat the press for just about the first time of the match. The ball falls to Andy Robertson in the box for what should have been a routine clearance. But instead he fluffs it, and it falls to Lacazette right in front of goal. Oof.
GOAL! Hell of a response. Naby Keita is rugby tackled to the ground, but the ref plays advantage. Roberto Firmino picks up the pieces and plays Mohamed Salah through. Mo wiggles past a defender into space in the box, before firing off a low shot, The shot is saved, but falls to Mané at the back stick, who slots it.
GOAL!! Robertson makes up for his error with a rare goal! Alexander-Arnold puts in a dangerous cross, and Robbo chests it down and finishes with his favored left boot.
Even after being gifted a goal, the looks on Arsenal’s players say it all: they are being bullied all over the pitch, and they know they are lucky to still be in this. That said, perhaps Kloppo should consider subbing Mané sooner rather than later, as he looks ripe for a second yellow.
The Gunners come out swinging in the second half, but given the space they’re leaving at the back, they might regret it. Either way, there appears to be more goals in this.
Alisson appears to be back to his best, doing fantastically well to deny Lacazette an equalizer after the Arsenal forward was played through on goal. This was moments after he saved a similar, albeit offside, effort. Liverpool are still on top, but this Arsenal side can definitely hurt us if the game isn’t put to bed.
As the half enters the last 15 minutes, it’s becoming a war of attrition. Both sides look punched out, the only question is whether Liverpool can hang on for the win, or Arsenal can sneak a late equalizer.
Klopp makes his first changes of the match, a double substitution: Mané and Keita off for Diogo Jota and James Milner. Jota is immediately at it, offering Liverpool an attacking thrust that has been sorely missed as the second half drags on.
Jota should have opened his Liverpool account right there! Salah picks him out with a brilliant through ball, but Jota can only find the side netting with his shot. Jota should have had another big chance a moment later, but Salah came up with a fantastic last-ditch tackle. Same side, mate! Same side!
GOAL!!! JOTA GETS HIS GOAL! David Luiz clears an Alexander-Arnold, but only as far as Jota at the edge of the area. Jota chests it down, and volleys it into the bottom corner, with a kiss off the inside post.
Klopp makes his final sub as we enter stoppage time, hooking Bobby in favor of Takumi Minamino.
That was nervier than it needed to be, but it was a deserved result from a dominant performance from the Reds. And Arsenal’s tradition of conceding at least three at Anfield...continues.