Liverpool maintained their place at the top of the Premier League and their 100% start to the season as Arsenal were well beaten at Anfield.
The Gunners, the only other side in the top flight to win their first two games, had opportunities to shock Liverpool in a tight first half, especially when record £72m signing Nicolas Pepe shot straight at keeper Adrian after running clear.
Liverpool took control when Joel Matip put them ahead with a powerful header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner four minutes before the interval.
And any hopes manager Unai Emery had of watching his side mount a recovery were snuffed out in the 49th minute after a moment of madness from new signing David Luiz, who needlessly dragged Mohamed Salah back in the area.
Liverpool’s Egyptian attacker drilled home the penalty and then embarrassed Luiz again out on the touchline at the start of a dazzling run that ended with a low, curling finish into the bottom corner just before the hour.
Arsenal substitute Lucas Torreira pulled one back late on, but nothing was getting in the way of Liverpool’s 12th successive Premier League victory, equalling their best sequence in the top flight under Kenny Dalglish between April and October 1990.
Liverpool back in the old routine
Liverpool had moments when they stuttered against Southampton and their defence has looked unusually fallible – but this was a movie we have seen many times before at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp.
Arsenal have suffered badly here in recent seasons, losing 5-1 last season and 4-0 in Arsene Wenger’s final season. Once again, despite taking their time to hit top gear, Liverpool’s ruthlessness and intensity simply proved too much for Arsenal.
True, they gratefully accepted Luiz’s gifts but once Matip put Liverpool ahead the pressure and intensity applied to Arsenal was simply too much for the Gunners to resist.
And, as Arsenal discovered, when you fail to take chances to punish Liverpool, the inevitable outcome is that you will be punished yourselves.
Liverpool do not simply have a prodigious work ethic that makes life permanently uncomfortable for opponents; they also have world-class attacking options as illustrated by Salah’s brilliant weaving run and slide-rule finish for their third.
Klopp’s side missed out on the title by a single point despite only one loss, to champions Manchester City, last season – and three wins from three has quickly put the marker down that they intend to go one better and claim that first title in 30 years.
Liability Luiz kills Arsenal chances
Luiz has a track record of success that suggests he may be able to bring moments of quality to Arsenal’s defence after his surprise £8m move from Chelsea – but there is no escaping he has the enduring capability to be a complete liability.
The Brazilian, at 32, is not going to change and so it proved as he delivered a moment of crass stupidity that killed stone dead Arsenal’s hopes of taking anything away from Anfield.
It is a stretch to say Arsenal had Liverpool on the ropes but, despite the overall domination of the European champions, the Gunners certainly had moments of threat through the pace and menace of Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They would have started the second half with hope.
Luiz made it all count for nothing when he felt his best method of dealing with Salah’s 49th-minute raid into the penalty area was to blatantly drag him back by the shirt in a red-mist moment that did not even seriously require the intervention of the video assistant referee.
Salah, despite some ludicrous protests from Luiz, drilled home the penalty before taking him to cleaners when scoring Liverpool’s brilliant third.
Too much of the Arsenal’s playing out from the back was asking for trouble against this Liverpool side. Throw in the act of stupidity from Luiz and ultimately they got what they deserved, despite some areas for Emery to admire.
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
‘We are not in Disneyland’ – what they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports: “It was a brilliant game from my side so early in the season. It was outstanding. It was a performance full of power, energy, greed and passion, which I think you need to have against a team like Arsenal.
“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47 or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. We were completely in charge of the game. We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.
“We had enough bodies and legs to put them under pressure. We had the full-backs really high. The boys did what we wanted them to do and scored wonderful goals. The penalty decision I think was absolutely obvious. Mo’s third goal was absolutely amazing, but the pedigree of the boys is sensational. Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today.”
Arsenal boss Unai Emery, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “Today, the first half, we worked together. We were doing some transition very good and we had some chances but, the second half, the penalty was very soft. After 2-0 our reaction was good. We needed to attack and take a different moment in the match.
“Yes, we are disappointed we lost 3-1 but watching some players we can be optimistic. We need to improve in possession and countering the pressure but Liverpool is the best team with this.
“We have to be realistic but we can fight closer to them. For me, today, without the result there were some good periods.”
Arsenal’s Liverpool woe – the stats
- Since Jurgen Klopp took over in October 2015, Liverpool have scored 26 goals in eight Premier League games against Arsenal – the most one side has netted against another in the competition in that period.
- Only Everton at Arsenal (64) have conceded more away goals against a single opponent in the Premier League than Arsenal at Liverpool (62).
- Arsenal have now failed to win any of their past 23 away league games against fellow ‘Big six’ sides (D8 L15) – during this run they have conceded 53 goals while keeping just one clean sheet.
- Since the start of last season, Arsenal have given away eight Premier League penalties – only Brighton (10) have faced more.
- Liverpool have scored 22 headed goals in the Premier League since the start of last season; seven more than any other side. The Reds have scored three in this campaign already, while no other side has scored more than one.
- Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has faced Arsenal eight times without defeat in the Premier League (W5 D3).
- Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Arsenal than against any other side (eight; six goals and two assists). He has scored in all four of his home games against them.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted nine goals in his past 10 appearances at Anfield for Liverpool in all competitions, including assisting once in each of his past five competitive home games.
- Nicolas Pepe has become the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the Dutch defender’s past 50 appearances in the Premier League, since Mikel Merino in March 2018 for Newcastle.
Liverpool travel to Burnley in their next Premier League fixture on Saturday, 31 August (17:30 BST). Arsenal resume league action when they host Tottenham in the first north London derby of the season, on Sunday, 1 September (16:30 BST).