Liverpool schooled Arsenal in a big way at Anfield on Sunday, running out 4-0 winners when it could really have been much worse for the visitors.
Goals from Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge tore Arsenal to shreds and heightened the sense of anxiety in Arsenal fans just three games into the new campaign.
Loris Karius – The change of goalkeeper was the big talking point before kick-off, but in truth Karius may never have a quieter match in a Liverpool shirt. Karius looked a little nervous at times, but the clean sheet will help his confidence (even if he didn’t face a single shot on target).
Joe Gomez – Nathaniel Clyne has a serious battle for that right-back spot with Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold making great starts to the campaign. Set up one and began the breakaway for another
Joel Matip – Kept Danny Welbeck very quiet and looked assured throughout.Pretty quiet overall, but that wasn’t his own doing.
Dejan Lovren – Similar to Matip. Didn’t have to do much against an attack that didn’t ask many questions.
Alberto Moreno – Very, very good and lively display. Where the hell has this player been? Still a little dodgy in certain defensive aspects of his game, but this is a player very much up for the fight at left-back this season.
Emre Can – Arguably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt. The German international was everywhere – passing, tackling, creating chances. After two goals in midweek, this has been the perfect week for Can. Naby who?
Jordan Henderson – Solid. Liverpool generally dominated the midfield and Henderson was part of that. Missed a decent chance to score himself but controlled the middle of the park well.
Gini Wijnaldum – Energetic performance from the Dutchman. Deal with Aaron Ramsey like he wasn’t even there and really the only thing missing from his showing was a goal.
Mohamed Salah – Has slotted into Liverpool attack seamlessly. Made one, scored one, could have scored more but this was a showing that suggested that Salah is set to take the league by storm at the second attempt.
Sadio Mane – A nightmare for the Arsenal defence. The Senegalese international carved the hapless Arsenal rearguard at will, scored a fantastic goal and came off in the second half to rapterous applause from the Kop.
Roberto Firmino – The unconventional centre forward put in another fantastic shift. Took his goal really well and his link-up play with his fellow forwards was devastating throughout.
Daniel Sturridge (Mane 74) – Impressive cameo for the English international that ended with the icing on the cake with a late header. Great confidence-booster for the striker.
James Milner (Firmino 80) – Will do well to get back into this team given his restoration to midfield, and wasn’t on for long enough here to make that much of an impact.
Marko Grujic (Can 84) – Nice for the Serbian midfielder to get some league minutes, but didn’t have much to do.
Petr Cech – An early save from Salah suggested that Cech would have a fine game today. It didn’t quite pan out that way, although Cech himself wasn’t the biggest culprit in Arsenal’s capitulation.
Rob Holding – Completely, hopelessly out of his depth. Starting the former Bolton defender ahead of Shkodran Mustafi was an incredibly bad judgement call from Wenger and he was punished severely as a result.
Laurent Koscielny – Tried his best to control the disaster happening around him, but in truth, there was little he could do virtually on his own against a rampant Liverpool attack.
Nacho Monreal – Nor a centre-back, regardless of Wenger is attempting with him. Torn apart by Liverpool at almost every phase of play. Moved to left-back at half time but the rot had already set in at that stage.
Hector Bellerin – Looked lost throughout. Attempts to stop Salah were futile, but by the end it looked like he wasn’t even trying anymore.
Granit Xhaka – Third goal-conceding error in as many games from Xhaka for Firmino’s opener. Didn’t have the mobility or awareness to respond to what the Liverpool midfield were doing around him.
Aaron Ramsey – Taken off at half time, Ramsey was lucky not to have been sacrificed much sooner. There is simply no partnership with Xhaka to speak of and Ramsey was brutally exposed in the midfield two.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Could be back at Anfield on a more permanent basis before the transfer deadline, but he’ll be hoping Klopp wasn’t watching him too closely based on this performance. Couldn’t handle Mane at wing-back.
Alexis Sanchez – First game back from injury, it’ll be Sanchez’s last in an Arsenal shirt if he can help it. Pretty anonymous, truth be told, as he struggled to get a feel for the game.
Mesut Ozil – Is there a point to playing Ozil in big matches anymore? Went missing again, as has become maddingly typical against a high standard of opposition.
Danny Welbeck – Missed an early chance…and that was about it. The decision to play Welbeck ahead of Lacazette looks even worse with the benefit of hindsight.
Francis Coquelin (Ramsey 46) – Came on at half time to steady the already sinking ship. Arsenal’s problems were vast and a player like Coquelin was never going to be able to fix them.
Olivier Giroud (Sanchez 62) – Starve of service when he came on for the last half-hour.
Alexandre Lacazette (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62) – A baffling decision by Wenger not to start the club’s record signing against a Liverpool defence that can be got at. By the time Lacazette came on, the match was already over as a contest.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we catch up with Sligo Rovers striker Vinny Faherty after that brilliant win at Cork City last weekend, as well as looking back at last weekend’s Premier Divison matches and ahead to this weekend’s FAI Cup action.