David Luiz spun on his heels and immediately began to jab his finger towards the assistant referee in front of the Sir Kenny Dalglish stand.
It was 61 minutes into a key day for Arsenal and Luiz wanted to know why Adam Nunn had not flagged to halt a Liverpool attack. All very good, you may think. Arsenal had signed Luiz from Chelsea to provide direction and leadership and this little cameo seemed to embody what they wanted.
Right? Wrong. If Luiz was hoping to cover his tracks with overt gestures, he failed hopelessly. This pantomime kidded nobody in the stadium. There was a reason the scoreboard in the far corner of the stadium read ‘Liverpool 3 Arsenal 0’ at that point and Luiz could not hide his culpability.
Mohamed Salah became the star of the show once again as he trebled Liverpool’s advantage at Anfield on Saturday evening
The Egypt international wheels away in celebration having ran half the length of the pitch to place the ball into the corner
The Liverpool forward made it 2-0 quickly after half-time by sending Bernd Leno the wrong way from the penalty spot
Salah celebrates in front of the Liverpool faithful after tucking home his penalty having being fouled by David Luiz
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian 5.5, Alexander Arnold 6.5, Matip 9, van Dijk 7, Robertson 6.5, Henderson 6.5, Fabinho, Wijnaldum 7.5 (Milner 69, 6), Salah 8.5, Firmino 6.5 (Lallana 85), Mane 6.5 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77, 6)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Shaqiri, Origi
Goalscorers: Matip 41, Salah 49, pen 58
Arsenal (4-1-2-1-2): Leno 7, Maitland-Niles 6, Luiz 4.5, Sokratis 5, Monreal 6.5, Xhaka 6.5, Guendouzi 5 (Mkhitaryan 85), Willock 5 (Lacazette 80), Ceballos 5.5 (Torreira 61, 7), Pepe 7, Aubameyang 6
Subs not used: Martinez, Chambers, Nelson, Kolasinac
Goalscorers: Torreira 85
Referee: Anthony Taylor 8
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We will examine, in due course, Liverpool’s vibrant attacking and a performance that preserved their perfect start to the campaign but it cannot be overlooked how Arsenal – and Luiz – played a major role in their own downfall.
Luiz was supposed to bring steel to Arsenal’s backline when he swapped Stamford Bridge for the Emirates Stadium but he took leave of his sense on Merseyside, conceding a penalty that changed the course of the game before a fatal moment’s hesitation allowed Mohamed Salah to ransack him.
Liverpool have made a habit of demolishing Arsenal at this stadium but this latest instalment was actually closer for a spell than the score would lead you to believe; indeed, had Nicolas Pepe possessed the killer instinct of a man with a £72million price tag things could have been different.
As it was, Unai Emery found himself in the familiar position of losing a big Premier League game. Any hopes that Arsenal supporters may have started to harbour after opening up with two wins must be tempered. Liverpool, ruthless and relentless, exposed their shortcomings.
‘I loved the desire, the passion, the power and the energy we put into this game,’ Jurgen Klopp said, enthusiasm bursting from him. ‘It made us really uncomfortable to play against, I would say. Nice passes, a lot of good football moments. That is what we wanted.’
There were only 80 seconds on the clock when Liverpool’s first opening arrived but Roberto Firmino, scorer of a hat-trick in this fixture last December, failed by a fraction to get his toe to Andrew Robertson’s fizzing cross.
Klopp was not the only who liked what he saw. In the fifth minute, The Kop was roaring as Liverpool’s attack hemmed Arsenal’s defenders onto the byline and Sadio Mane hurtled into dispossess Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who looked taken aback by the Senegalese’s intensity.
Joel Matip scrambles through a crowd of bodies to head the ball into the net with Virgil van Dijk having his shirt pulled
Matip gave Liverpool the lead after he headed in a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner just before the half-time break
Matip jumped in the air to celebrate giving the Reds the lead after they dominated the ball in the first half at Anfield
Sadio Mane has an effort well saved by Bernd Leno (left) after Dani Ceballos accidentally passed the ball to the Reds forward
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang apologises after he attempted a shot on goal and thought he should have passed instead
Arsenal played a narrow formation which allowed Liverpool’s full-backs plenty of space but the Reds did not capitalise
32 minutes: VAR makes its first appearance. Referee Anthony Taylor has a check for an off-the-ball incident involving David Luiz and Mohamed Sala. After two minutes came the verdict – nothing untoward. Play continues with a corner to Liverpool. If Luiz had been found guilty by video, it would have been a red card.
41 minutes: Joel Matip leaps to head home a corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Referee Taylor checks there is nothing amiss. Goal stands.
48 minutes: VAR had to be used after Mohamed Sala was pulled back by Luiz. Penalty. No video needed by referee Taylor for the decision, just the formality of confirmation from VAR required after every goal.
59 minutes: again a customary check after a goal as Salah left Luiz gasping and helpless on the touchline as he accelerated through for Liverpool’s third. Arsenal manager Unai Emery might ask for a copy to show his players how not to defend against pace.
84 minutes: Lucas Torreira scores a consolation. VAR check but never a doubt.
87 minutes: Taylor calls on VAR for a handball check in the Liverpool penalty area. Liverpool given the all-clear.
Had Liverpool landed a telling blow in those opening exchanges, you envisaged them doing serious damage to Arsenal but, to their credit, Emery’s players knuckled down. This, without question, was a significant improvement on the flimsy way they capitulated on their last visit.
They had their moments, too. In the 11th minute, a misjudgement and poor clearance from Adrian ended up at the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but his instinctive lob lacked the direction to exacerbate the Spaniard’s error.
That opportunity was the trigger for Arsenal’s best spell of the game and the two players who stood out most were Joe Willock, the England youth international and Nicolas Pepe, whose scintillating pace had Liverpool’s defence on edge.
Willock, who looks certain to be elevated into the first England Under-21 squad of the season, was particularly vibrant and one scurrying run from deep took Liverpool by such surprise that it required Firmino to surge back and make a significant intervention.
A better opening followed in the 34th minute and this had lasting ramifications. When Jordan Henderson failed to control a ball inside Arsenal’s half, Pepe pounced and charged forward on his own, mugging Robertson with a glorious piece of trickery.
Faced with the opportunity of beating Adrian, however, Pepe’s touch was suddenly not so sure and as Henderson ran back to apply pressure, the Ivorian shot weakly and Adrian saved; Henderson tidied up the mess, much to Klopp’s obvious delight. Such mistakes do not go unpunished.
Joe Willock manages to get past Liverpool’s holding midfielder Fabinho during the match on Saturday evening
Willock tries to run away with the ball under pressure from Roberto Firmino in the middle of the pitch at Anfield
Roberto Firmino dribbles away from Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as he tries to retain possession for the Reds
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who had a relatively quiet first half for his standards, attempts to control the ball
Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum tries to keep hold of the ball under pressure from Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal
Nicolas Pepe puts his hands on his head as he goes close to putting the Gunners in front in the early moments
Just before half-time, Liverpool took the lead. A superb outswinging corner from Alexander-Arnold picked out Joel Matip – “Joel was there. Big Joel!’ said Klopp – and the Cameroon defender planted a header beyond Bernd Leno. It was an advantage they never looked like relinquishing.
In the opening 15 minutes of the second half, they were outstanding; quick and strong, all parts of the team moving in perfect synchronicity, they started to look like the champions of Europe. They had far too much class.
Luiz, of course, helped them get their second goal. His shirt pull on Salah, which led to Liverpool’s penalty, was absolutely ridiculous and the Egyptian gleefully took his opportunity, swishing his spot kick high in Leno’s top corner. There was better to come.
Fabinho, such an unsung but crucial member of this team, played a ball to Salah on the halfway line in the 58th minute and with one deft touch, he danced away from Luiz and sprinted into the area before finishing with his left foot. Klopp called the strike “incredible” and you could not disagree.
The only blemish was the needless consolation they allowed Arsenal to pilfer in the 86th minute, when substitute Lucas Torreira fired in through a crowded penalty area. Really, though, it was a day to leave Klopp purring. For Luiz and Arsenal, on the other hand, old clumsy habits die hard.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery barks orders on the touchline as his side struggled to keep hold of the ball in the first half
Jurgen Klopp sits with his coaching staff on the sidelines at Anfield on Saturday afternoon waiting for the match to begin