Liverpool - Liverpool
soared clear at the top of the Premier League by sweeping aside Arsenal
3-1 at Anfield thanks to a Mohamed Salah double on Saturday.
Both sides started with the only 100 percent records left in
England's top-flight, but Jurgen Klopp's men demonstrated the chasm that
exists behind them and reigning champions Manchester City with a
Joel Matip's towering header opened the floodgates just before
half-time and Salah killed the game from the penalty spot before adding
his second with a wonderful run and finish.
Liverpool open up a three-point lead at the top with Arsenal still in
second, but City and Tottenham can move to within two points when they
are in action on Sunday.
Arsenal have now lost their last three visits to Anfield by a
combined score of 12-2 and early season optimism they could pose a
threat to Liverpool and City in the title race was snuffed out despite
promising signs from club record signing Nicolas Pepe.
The Ivorian was handed his first start since a £72 million move from Lille and showed why he was so coveted by posing a
constant threat on the counter-attack.
Liverpool were camped in the Gunners' half for the opening 10
minutes, but the visitors were nearly gifted the lead when Adrian,
deputising for the injured Alisson Becker in goal, got in Virgil van
Dijk's way as he dealt with a hopeful long ball for Pepe.
The Spanish stopper was at fault for Southampton's consolation in a
2-1 Liverpool win last weekend but escaped this time as the ball fell to
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his chipped effort drifted inches wide.
Pepe then became the first player to
dribble past Van Dijk in the Premier League for nearly 18 months as he
showed his blistering pace and sent a curling effort from outside the
area just wide.
At the other end Liverpool's high press was often forcing mistakes as
Arsenal tried to play their way out from the back and Dani Ceballos's
careless pass across his own box was intercepted by Sadio Mane, whose
shot was just too close to Bernd Leno.
Arsenal's big chance to try and end a miserable run without a win
away to top six opposition now stretching back 23 games came when Pepe
skilfully dribbled past Andy Robertson to burst clear on goal, but his
shot was weak and easily saved by Adrian.
Instead, Liverpool cranked up the pressure before the break and got
the breakthrough on 41 minutes when Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner was
met powerful by Matip's head.
Once in front, the European champions showed their class to roll
through the gears in the second-half and hand Arsenal another Anfield
Questions will be asked of the imbalance in the Gunners' recruitment
strategy as they spent big on Pepe for an already fearsome forward line
including Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, who started on the bench,
but waited until deadline day to sign a much-needed centre-back in David
The Brazilian showed why Chelsea were not desperate to keep hold on
him as he hauled back Salah to concede a soft penalty, which the
Egyptian emphatically converted.
Nine minutes later, Arsenal's new centre-back was embarrassed once
more as Salah raced onto Fabinho's pass, beyond Luiz who did not want to
dive in and see a second yellow card, before curling clinically into
the far corner.
With still half an hour to play, Unai Emery's men could have folded
but, to their credit, they stayed in the game and got their reward six
minutes from time when substitute Lucas Torreira fired home at the
second attempt from Aubameyang's cut-back.