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Mikel Arteta's run-in with Klopp acts as spark to ignite Liverpool blitz

For Liverpool, there was the reassuring familiarity of a comfortable win over Arsenal.
Liverpool v Arsenal Premier League 21/22 Match summary
  • Liverpool move back up to second after comprehensive win over Arsenal
  • Both managers booked for fiery touchline clash 
  • Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale prevents further damage for visitors

For Liverpool, there was the reassuring familiarity of a comfortable win over Arsenal. For Mikel Arteta, only the sobering reality that little has changed since their early season beatings by Chelsea and Manchester City.

Results and performances against the title contenders make grim reading in North London, as Jurgen Klopp’s side rediscovered their winning touch in what ultimately amounted to a rout.

Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino’s goals were a fair reflection of the gulf in class for the last hour of a one-sided 4-0 victory. But for Aaron Ramsdale, Liverpool would have scored another four.

And yet when Mikel Arteta re-examines the wreckage, he will be compelled to question his own role and ask himself if he was guilty of courage or naivety. Most will accuse him of the latter.

For 33 minutes Arsenal were doing reasonably well. Sure, Liverpool were controlling the ball but not doing much with it, and the visiting fans were engaging in a chant about whether the Anfield atmosphere is all that it’s made out to be.

Arteta, perhaps emboldened by the relative serenity and manner in which his defence was nullifying Liverpool’s strikers, decided to take on Jurgen Klopp in a touchline shouting match. By proxy, he was calling it on with the whole of the stadium. Not, as it turns out, the wisest move.

Klopp and his Liverpool support staff also expressed their feelings towards the Arsenal bench
Klopp and his Liverpool support staff also expressed their feelings towards the Arsenal bench Credit: ACTION IMAGES

Anfield duly picked up the gauntlet, the arena ignited, and Liverpool were ahead within a few minutes as tranquility surrendered to an all-out attacking blitz and utter home dominance.

“They were seeing red blurs all over the place,” said Trent Alexander-Arnold, outstanding again.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain called it a 'turning point'.

It was a curious spectacle as Arteta and Klopp - hugging each other before kick-off - had to be restrained by their coaching staff. The incendiary moment came about because the Spanish coach was increasingly irate with Sadio Mane’s challenges on Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyosu. Arteta first complained in the second minute that Mane was leading into aerial challenges with his elbow.

Klopp clocked that complaint, so was poised when his rival was again animated, demanding the officials intervene. 

In the aftermath, all the backroom staff joined in exchanging obscenities and both managers were booked. Arteta had immediate cause for regret as the Liverpool coach instructed his supporters to increase the volume, and in the ensuing noise Ramsdale saved from Mane and Alexander-Arnold before succumbing to the Senegal striker’s 39th minute header. Alexander-Arnold, inevitably, was the provider. He rightfully claims the assist, although even he might concede Arteta’s indirect role. 

“Maybe the crowd needed a little help and it pushed the team again,” said Klopp.

“It was a completely clean situation; two players in the air and the Arsenal bench is  (reacting) together. I asked, ‘What do you want for that?’ I am sick of these situations where people go for Sadio.” 

Arteta, naturally, considered the disturbance irrelevant to the overall outcome. 

“He was trying to defend his side and I was trying to defend mine. The atmosphere was incredible from the beginning,” he said.

 Whatever the wisdom and merit of Arteta’s complaint, it backfired horribly.

We came to Anfield to assess what is different at Arsenal. Not enough, as it turned out.

Personnel-wise, they are certainly unrecognisable. It is a sign of Arteta’s rising confidence that he was prepared to leaveKieran Tierney on the bench to keep faith in Nuno Tavares, although the Portuguese left back would be culpable for Liverpool’s second goal.

Unfortunately for Arteta, mentality issues linger. If he arrived on Merseyside intent on banishing the enduring notion his team is a soft touch, especially in venues like this, they failed miserably.

“I have seen the biggest teams in the world come to this ground and collapse. They were better than us. That’s it,” said Arteta, defending his players while acknowledging they ‘threw it away in the first 15 minutes of the second half’.

Arsenal were especially awful after the interval, their competitiveness undermined by carelessness at the back. From the outset they were intent on playing one-touch football from their six yard box, dicing with danger too often. One might have thought Arteta knew the risk and reward calculations were not weighted in his favour from his Manchester City experiences here, Liverpool pressing high and scampering to win back possession within shooting distance.

Had it not been for Aaron Ramsdale, Liverpool could have scored more than the four goals 
Had it not been for Aaron Ramsdale, Liverpool could have scored more than the four goals  Credit: AP

When Tavares catastrophically passed directly to Jota in the penalty box on 52 minutes, the Portuguese striker indulged in a couple of drops of the shoulder, put White and Ramsdale on the floor, and tapped gleefully into the empty net.

Liverpool were out of sight shortly after, Salah striking the third on 73 minutes and substitute Minamino instantly adding the fourth to turn it into a battering. Liverpool needed this after their defeat at West Ham and with whispers about their title credentials increasing because of so many injuries. They need to stay in touch with Chelsea.

“After half-time we had a really impressive face,” said Klopp. “It was a mature performance with exciting moments.”

 It all turned out to be too much of the same for Arsenal. 

“It's a blip and it's not a sprint. This game won't define our season,” said Ramsdale.

Their recent results show Arsenal are improving, but the gap between them and the title contenders is still yawning.

Liverpool v Arsenal Premier League 21/22 match statistics
Liverpool v Arsenal Premier League 2021/22 Action areas
Liverpool v Arsenal Premier League 21/22 Line-ups
 Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0: How match unfolded
7:22PM
Full-time: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

Liverpool were in complete control to put an end to Arsenal's eight-game unbeaten run. 

Some heroic saves from Ramsdale kept the score at four as Arteta goes back to the drawing board. 

The hosts are now up to second (25 points) with Manchester City to play tomorrow; the Gunners remain in fifth (20 points).

Jurgen Klopp looks delighted at full-time. 
Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Phil Noble
7:18PM
Three minutes of added time

It's looking like a pedestrian end to proceedings here. 

7:16PM
87 mins

A slow-down in tempo here, not much from either side the last few minutes.

7:13PM
83 mins - Subs for both sides

Thiago makes way for Tyler Morton, for his Premier League debut for Liverpool. 

Thomas Partey makes way for Mo Elneny for Arsenal. 

7:08PM
Liverpool subs before that goal

Henderson and Minamino on.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jota off.

7:07PM
76 mins GOAL! Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

Minamino this time! Mane is on the edge of the box, he plays it short to to his right Salah, who then threads through Alexander Arnold who comes round the back of him. A pinpoint low cross into the box from AA comes to Minamino at the back who easily slots home.

He's barely been on the pitch 20 seconds and he's got himself on the scoresheet. Liverpool in total control now. 

Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates scoring their fourth goal. 
Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates scoring their fourth goal.  Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Phil Noble.
7:03PM
72 mins GOAL! Liverpool 3-0 Arsenal

Salah!!! He's been absolutely devastating this game - and now he's got his goal.

Jota with a great header in to play Mane through who surges down the left hand side into the box, dragging the Arsenal centre backs out of position before squaring it to Salah who easily finishes.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their side's third goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
7:00PM
Such composure from Jota for Liverpool's second...

Oh so easy...

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