Liverpool thrust themselves right back into the battle for the Premier League’s top four as they outclassed abject Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
Chelsea’s shock thrashing at home to West Brom earlier in the day opened the door for Liverpool – and Jurgen Klopp’s burst straight through it in style with a victory that leaves them in fifth place only two points behind Thomas Tuchel‘s side.
The only surprise was that it took dominant Liverpool so long to make their superiority count.
They got the breakthrough they deserved after 64 minutes when Diogo Jota headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant delivery past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno three minutes after he replaced Andy Robertson.
It was not only the decisive moment of the contest but also a timely reminder of the quality Alexander-Arnold possesses at a time when England manager Gareth Southgate feels he can do without him, despite Euro 2020 being on the horizon.
Liverpool doubled their lead four minutes later when Mohamed Salah took advantage of poor defending by Arsenal’s Gabriel and then slid a cool finish through Leno’s legs.
Jota was the beneficiary of more good work from Alexander-Arnold when he slammed home his second from close range with eight minutes left – by then, the game had already become a formality.
England manager Southgate’s exclusion of Alexander-Arnold for the opening World Cup qualifiers shocked Klopp – and the defender’s performance in north London showed why.
Southgate currently prefers Manchester City’s Kyle Walker and Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier, believing Alexander-Arnold needs to improve his club form to merit inclusion amid a relatively indifferent season for the Premier League champions.
Klopp is clearly satisfied with Alexander-Arnold, though, and that is hardly surprising when he showed what a threat he offers as Liverpool overpowered Arsenal.
He showcased his world-class delivery for Jota’s opener then demonstrated his energy and awareness to steal back possession high up the pitch in the build-up to the prolific Portugal forward’s second goal.
It was a display that responded to Southgate’s decision in the perfect manner and suggested England must have serious quality at right-back if Alexander-Arnold is in serious danger of missing Euro 2020.
Liverpool and Klopp had a hugely satisfying night all round. Brazil’s Fabinho gave a masterclass in the midfield anchor role, demonstrating what they missed when he was deputising in central defence to cover for injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Klopp’s side may be in a miserable run of six successive home defeats but their away form is sustaining them and this comfortable three points, on the back of the previous victory at Wolves, gives them real hope of Champions League qualification.
With a Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Real Madrid on Tuesday, Liverpool suddenly look like a team with renewed purpose and momentum.
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