Liverpool is back. Not back at their best. That would be absurd. A longer rehabilitation period will be needed to return to the heights of the last two years after such a major fall from grace.
But back in the game, for sure. On the day they handed in their title, mathematically unable to get hold of Manchester City, they showed many old qualities. More importantly, they sent Arsenal away with ease and made sure that the battle for that final Champions League spot would be an entertaining and thoroughly unworthy one.
There were signs of new life all over the field. With the last kick of the match, Mo Salah urged Allison to kick long so he could chase Arsenal’s defense for the last time. The game was long gone, but he was eager to finish it in style. It’s been a while since Salah looked so engaged.
Diogo Jota immediately made an impression when the Portuguese in form scored twice when Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-0 on Saturday.
The £ 45 million forward put Liverpool in the lead within minutes to give the visitors a well-deserved lead
The 24-year-old jumped out of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers to drive Trent Alexander-Arnold’s angry cross home
The former Wolves star celebrates after putting Jurgen Klopp’s side ahead against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney (Soares, 45 + 1); Thomas, Ceballos (Elneny, 58); Pepe, Odegaard, Aubameyang (Martinelli, 77); Lacazette
Subs not used: Bellerin, Mari, Nelson, Nketiah, Ryan, Willian
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson (Jota, 61), Kabak (Williams, 84), Phillips, Alexander-Arnold; Milner, Fabinho, Thiago; Mane, Firmino (Wijnaldum, 78), Salah
Subs not used: Adrian, Jones, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Tsimikas
Scorers: Jota (64, 82), Salah (68)
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Substitute Diogo Jota re-emerged to prove his worth, with two goals born from the intuition of a natural finisher.
And at the very back there was Trent Alexander Arnold, who had been dropped by England to Jürgen Klopp’s misunderstanding and immediately responded to the charge that his country no longer needs him. He was fantastic.
Should Real Madrid fear this week’s Champions League clash? Probably not, given the rawness of the back four.
Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips thrived because they were barely tested. And because Fabinho wandered imperiously ahead of them.
But in the race for the top four, Chelsea would have to look over their shoulder.
And West Ham, Tottenham and Everton will know that they will not disappear for the last eight games.
“It was a very important statement for us as we have to show that we can fight for a top four finish,” said Klopp.
‘Because of all the situations that have arisen, we now do not have it in our own hands. We have to put pressure on our rivals, but we’re still not in it. The others are in front of us and we have to fight. ‘
Alexander-Arnold, who he said was ‘exceptional’, doubled the praise he had piled on his right wing in the run-up to this match.
Klopp may be baffled that he had lost weight, but it was clear that the break had done him good.
Mohamed Salah doubled the Premier League champion’s advantage within minutes after coolly slipped past Leno
Liverpool midfielders Fabinho (left) and Thiago Alcantara (right) congratulate Salah (center) after Egyptian found the net
Portugal international Jota took out three after crashing a Salah cross home past helpless Leno while Holding watches
Jota drives away in celebration after strengthening Liverpool’s grip on a disappointing Arsenal squad Saturday night
“Oh yes,” said Klopp. ‘He didn’t have much rest during training. But he had time to train and recover, and it helped. I said the things I had to say because it’s my opinion, but I don’t criticize Gareth Southgate and I don’t want to argue – I respect his decision, but I know the player better than any other coach and I can say that he is a world-class player. ‘
He looked like this last night. And this looked like a Liverpool team again. Liverpool were sharp in their passes, their midfield dominant. Thiago and James Milner switched games at every opportunity, dropping long precision passes into space that Andy Robertson and Alexander-Arnold could run to.
Arsenal, crab-like, was reduced to shelter in their shell, with the attacks in check. Initially they did so effectively, but at the expense of their own attacking ambition. But in the end they capitulated.
It left their manager, Mikel Arteta, apologizing for the performance and wondering if it was the worst under his command.
“One of the worst,” he admitted. ‘I don’t care about the international break or injuries. I hate excuses. It could have been a bigger margin. If you don’t do the basics right, you don’t stand a chance. It was a big shock to the system.
There was some clarity in the midst of the chaos. Dani Ceballos does not have to stay next season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will have to do it given his lucrative long-term contract, but it has been confirmed that he is miles from the leader he was last season. And the defense just isn’t good enough. They played their luck all the time.
With Liverpool’s dominance not breaking through in the first half, Klopp upped the ante.
Away came Robertson and Jota came in 61 minutes. Milner went to left back and Roberto Firmino played behind Jota – Liverpool had effectively committed to a front four.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrates as his side closed the gap to rival Chelsea in the race for the top four
Sadio Mané tries to dodge the challenges of Rob Holding (left) and Calum Chambers (right) in a dominant first half
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel cries out in pain after a meeting with the Senegal international
Arsenal duo Alexandre Lacazette (left) and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had little impact on a quiet evening for the hosts
At 64 minutes, Alexander-Arnold delivered one of those delicious crosses that are his trademark. It was attacked with enthusiasm by Jota, who emphatically went home. Better to come for 68 minutes. Fabinho delivered a searching ball past the back four. Salah jumped and Gabriel, though slipping in to block, was overly committed and kept the striker running.
The denouement was wonderful. He cut in on goal with Bernd Leno approaching, gave the goalkeeper the eyes and then, from a tight angle with limited options, nutmeg to him, pushing the ball neatly through his legs.
After 81 minutes, Liverpool added their third. By now they chased Arsenal at every turn
So when Leno and Gabriel tried to play out from the back, Alexander-Arnold chased the ball and won it back.
From him to Salah and across the Sadio Moons, who touched it to Jota, who hit the ball home from four meters away. Liverpool was reacquainted with their old synchronicity. Arsenal was just a mess.
Relive all the action from the Emirates Stadium that OLLIE LEWIS from Sportsmail brought to you.