Liverpool ended Arsenal’s three-month unbeaten run with a 4-0 thrashing of the Gunners at Anfield on Saturday to ease up to second in the Premier League.
The Reds’ front three of Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah were all on target before substitute Takumi Minamino set the seal on a return to form for Jurgen Klopp’s men after losing for the first time in 26 games in their last outing at West Ham.
Victory lifts the Reds to within four points of leaders Chelsea.
Klopp was at the centre of a heated argument with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta that woke Liverpool from their slumber of the opening half-hour.
Visibly riled by the Spaniard, Klopp conducted the Anfield crowd with delight once Mane opened the floodgates six minutes before halftime.
Arsenal’s 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions has hauled them to within three points of the top four.
But they had not faced a side in the top seven of the table in that sequence and suffered another lesson on how far they still have to go to compete with the Premier League’s elite after heavy defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City earlier in the campaign.
The visitors had started well until Arteta undid much of his side’s good work as the two managers became embroiled in touchline spat that lit Liverpool’s fire.
Arteta was unhappy with Mane leading with his arm as he crashed into TakehiroTomiyasu.
There was no punishment for the Senegalese, but both coaches were booked for confronting each other.
The Reds were re-energised as Aaron Ramsdale had to continue his fine form to deny Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Arsenal were finally breached in soft fashion when Mane headed home unmarked from Alexander Arnold’s free-kick.
Liverpool then started the second period with the urgency they lacked in the opening stages as they constantly hounded Arsenal into mistakes deep inside their own half.
NunoTaveres was the culprit for the killer second goal as his sloppy pass teed up his compatriot Jota, who coolly left Ben White and Ramsdale on the floor before tapping into an empty net.
Jota’s flick freed Mane down the left and his cross was tapped home by Salah for his 16th goal in as many games this season.
Salah was involved again for the fourth goal as he teed up Alexander-Arnold to fire in a low cross that only required a simple tap-in from Minamino.
Elsewhere, Chelsea toyed with Leicester as Antonio Rudiger’s header opened the scoring at the King Power before N’GoloKante came back to haunt his old side with a brilliant run and strike from the edge of the box.
Substitute Christian Pulisic put the seal on a brilliant all-round performance and 3-0 win for the European champions, who also had two goals ruled out for offside.
Steven Gerrard got his Aston Villa project off to a dream start at Villa Park as his new side moved four points clear off the relegation zone.
England internationals Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings produced stunning finishes in the final six minutes to edge a nervy contest against Brighton.
Newcastle slipped to the bottom of the table in the absence of their new boss Eddie Howe, who tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, as the Magpies were held 3-3 at home by Brentford.
Norwich also got a bounce from a new manager as they moved off the foot of the table in Dean Smith’s first match in charge thanks to a 2-1 win over Southampton.
Che Adams put the Saints in front, but TeemuPukki and Grant Hanley lifted the Canaries to within three points of safety.
Burnley remain in the bottom three after another six-goal thriller at Turf Moor ended 3-3 with Crystal Palace.
West Ham missed the chance to move into second as Raul Jimenez scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for Wolves at Molineux. –AFP