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Review: Liverpool – Arsenal

Review: Liverpool – Arsenal
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A quickfire double by Roberto Firmino annulled Arsenal’s lead and Liverpool made it look easy after that in a convincing 5-1 victory.

Liverpool starting lineup: Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino
Arsenal starting lineup: Bernd Leno, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Liverpool got off to a fast start with lots of energy spent on pressing Arsenal’s back four. A mistake by Fabinho shook The Reds a bit and even though Alisson saved Iwobi’s goal attempt, a couple of minutes later, another lost ball ended in Iwobi’s legs. The Nigerian international crossed the ball perfectly to a wide open Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who tapped it in to shock the stadium crowd and give The Gunners a 1-0 lead.

The joy didn’t last long for the visitors. An unlucky clearance during which Lichtsteiner deflected the ball off his teammate Mustafi ended in Roberto Firmino’s feet. The Brazilian’s streak of 11 scoreless games at Anfield hit a halt when he tapped the ball into the open net to tie the score at 1-1.

Liverpool turned the game around in a blink of an eye when a careless giveaway soon after the equalizer led to Firmino dribbling past two defenders (Mustafi and Sokratis) before squaring up and firing a precise shot into the low corner. Just like that, the league leaders were back in front.

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In the 32nd minute, a poor corner by Liverpool was easily cleared by Arsenal. However, the ball went all the way back to Liverpool’s half, where Andrew Robertson took a chance by crossing it back inside the box. Lichtsteiner didn’t pull back, so the offside trap didn’t work. The ball came to Mohamed Salah, whose ideal first-time pass gave Sadio Mane an open net. The result was obvious – The Reds increased their lead to 3-1.

Just as it seemed that would be the result at half-time, a fantastic ball by Alisson Becker freed up Roberto Firmino on the right flank. He passed the ball on to Mohamed Salah, who got in front of Sokratis inside the penalty area. The Greek defender wasn’t careful enough and got a touch on Salah, forcing him to fall down and ask for a penalty. Michael Oliver didn’t hesitate and immediately showed on the spot. He didn’t change his ruling despite vigorous protests. Salah took the ball himself and struck it with power in the middle of the net. Leno got a slight touch on it, but not enough to prevent it from going in. At 4-1 Liverpool, the game was essentially over.

Unai Emery made a defensive change at the break, replacing Shkodran Mustafi with Laurent Koscielny. In the 62nd minute, Jurgen Klopp substituted Sadio Mane with Jordan Henderson. After the change, Fabinho had a decent shot saved by Bernd Leno. A couple of minutes later, Michael Oliver awarded another penalty kick to the Reds. This time, it was Sead Kolasinac who committed a foul that the referee deemed illegal. Roberto Firmino was on a hat-trick and he was given the opportunity to complete it, which he did by sending the ball in the right corner of the net.

In the 71st minute, Alexandre Lacazette replaced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Adam Lallana and Matteo Guendouzi were the next players to come on, taking the places of Wijnaldum and Kolasinac. In the 84th minute, Nathan Clyne came on for Andrew Robertson, who was on a yellow card. The game was slowly ticking down to its end, with the occasional threat here and there. Eventually, the final whistle sounded and made Liverpool’s 9-point advantage at the top of the Premier League table official. Curiously enough, this was also the third straight game refereed by Michael Oliver that finished 5-1.

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