Roberto Firmino scored his first Liverpool hat-trick as the Reds tore apart Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
It was a breathless start as Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored from a teasing Alex Iwobi cross in the 11th minute. However, only five minutes later, Liverpool went ahead as two strikes from Roberto Firmino, one a fortunate tap in and the other being a stunning solo effort, flipped the game on its head.
Sadio Mane extended the lead even further in the first-half as he powered Mo Salah’s cross into the roof of the net from close range. The Egyptian also won and converted a penalty in the final minute of the opening period to give Jurgen Klopp’s troops a commanding advantage at the break. They kept up their scoring run in the second-half as Firmino completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Dejan Lovren was pushed by Sead Kolasinac.
Maitland-Niles gives Arsenal early lead
Iwobi was the most threatening from an Arsenal perspective in the opening stages. He forced a good low stop from Alisson as he collected a sloppy pass from Fabinho and drove towards goal.
The Nigerian was also involved as the Gunners opened the scoring through Maitland-Niles. He tore down the left-flank and put an excellent cross straight into the path of the youngster and he duly finished into the empty net with a tap-in.
Quick fire Firmino double turns game around
It did not take too long for Jurgen Klopp’s troops did get back on level terms though, albeit in fortunate circumstances. Granit Xhaka attempted to slide and clear the ball whilst in the penalty area, only for it to bounce to Stefan Lichtsteiner. The Swiss tried to clear but it bounced off of Sokratis, presenting itself to Firmino who was lurking only yards away to convert into the unguarded net.
Quite amazingly, with the fans only just taking their seats at Anfield, they were back on their feet again as Firmino got his second. Mane did well to cut out a pass along the Arsenal backline and the ball fell to the Brazilian. He still had plenty to do with the Arsenal defence well set in front of him. Wriggling away from the challenges of Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi, he then found himself in the penalty area and kept a cool head to tuck the ball underneath Bernd Leno.
Mane puts Liverpool in control
The hosts were controlling the clash and went into the break with an excellent lead as a lofted ball found Salah. The Egyptian pulled the ball across goal with Mane lurking at the far post and he powered the ball high into Leno’s net.
The Reds were then given the opportunity to put even more gloss on the scoreline as Salah was taken down in the penalty area by Sokratis. The Egyptian was the man to step up and he smashed the ball into the back of the net.
Despite Unai Emery introducing Laurent Koscielny at the break, the Gunners’ defensive problems continued with Liverpool being awarded another penalty after Lovren was pushed in the box. Firmino was the man to shoulder responsibilty and he notched his hat-trick as he sent Leno the wrong way to round off a wonderful win for the hosts.
What a resounding win for Liverpool. Arsenal’s defence could not deal with the hosts razor sharp attack throughout the whole game, and there could well have been more goals. Emery needs to find a reaction in the Gunners’ next match.
Elsewhere, Liverpool deserved their thumping win and they are now nine points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool: Alisson (7); Robertson (7) (Clyne (N/A), 83′), van Dijk (8), Lovren (7), Alexander-Arnold (7); Fabinho (7), Wijnaldum (7) (Lallana (N/A), 77′); Mane (7) (Henderson (6), 62′), Firmino (9), Shaqiri (7); Salah (7).
Arsenal: Leno (5); Kolasinac (5) (Guendouzi (N/A), 81′), Sokratis (5), Mustafi (4) (Koscielny (5), 45′), Lichtsteiner (4); Xhaka (5), Torreira (5); Iwobi (6), Ramsey (5), Maitland-Niles (6); Aubameyang (5) (Lacazette (5), 71′).
Goals: Maitland-Niles (11′), Firmino (14′, 16′, 65′), Mane (32′), Salah PEN (45+1′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Robertson (26′), Xhaka (33′), Sokratis (90+2′)
Red Cards: N/A
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