In front of 52,000 Anfield faithful, Liverpool have beaten Arsenal 2-1 in a gritty struggle that remained undecided until the last few minutes of the match.
Hero of the game was undoubtedly Liverpool striker, Philippe Coutinho, who scored both goals for The Reds and had a hand in every Liverpool attack.
Liverpool opened the scoring in the 15th minute after a ball from Lallana found Mane wide on the right. Running at the defense, the elusive striker broke into the edge of the penalty box, catching the Arsenal back four in disarray. The pass driven across the face of goal was perfectly placed for an onrushing Coutinho who took a touch before calmly slotting the ball past Petr Cech.
The opening goal of the match: Mane on the right edge of the penalty box puts a ball across the goalmouth for Coutinho to run on to and drive into the back of the net from close range.
In the 24th minute Liverpool were on the attack again, with Coutinho firing off a missile-like shot from 20 yards. The ball caught Cech by surprise. He parried the shot and was able to recover before Mane could pounce on the error.
For Arsenal, the first 30 minutes of the match was a period of compounding frustration – several promising attacks broke down with a poor final ball.
The best chance for The Gunners came in the 33rd minute after a throw-in and a clever run down the right flank by Ozil, breaking the Liverpool defense wide open. Ozil had players streaming into the box but decided to take a shot himself from the corner of the 6 yard box. The angle made the shot difficult: Karius palmed the ball around the near post.
The ensuing corner saw Sanchez make a well-timed run deep into the penalty box, eluding his marker. The corner kick was perfectly placed. Karius came off his line to intercept the cross and made a shocking blunder. The ball fell at Sanchez’s feet. The striker made no mistake with the tap in, leveling the score at 1-1, against the run of play.
Liverpool keeper Loris Karius makes a rare mistake, fumbling a cross from the corner and allowing Arsenal’s Striker Alexis Sanchez to score from close range.
The first half came to a close with the scores still locked at 1-1. Liverpool’s quick play to wide men was a constant problem for the Arsenal defense.
The second half was a dour arm-wrestle with Liverpool looking to exploit the width of the pitch and Arsenal’s midfield trying valiantly to get the upper hand in the center of the park.
The best early chance of the half for Jurgen Klopp’s men came in the 61st minute when that man again – Coutinho – pounced on a stolen ball in the Arsenal backfield. With Cech caught off his line, the Liverpool striker dribbled inside the 18 yard box and chipped the keeper. Cech made a miraculous save, diving high to his right and deflecting the ball neatly into the path of a retreating defender to diffuse the threat. It was the finest save of the day.
Missed opportunity! Coutinho wins the ball. He dribbles to the edge of the 18 yard box and chips the keeper, forcing Cech to make a spectacular save.
The scores remained deadlocked until the 84th minute when Liverpool seized the ball deep in their own half and launched a lightning-fast counter-attack. The ball was swung forward and wide to Mane who played the perfect through-pass into the path of a sprinting Coutinho. In a 1v1 with the keeper, the Liverpool striker kept his composure to beat the intercepting dive of Cech and then casually dribble the ball into the goal unchallenged to give a final score of 2-1.
In the final minutes, Liverpool seize on a loose ball and immediately go on the counter-attack. The move would lead to the game’s winning goal.
Disaster for Arsenal; quick counter-attacking play sees Coutinho in a 1v1 with the keeper, and Cech is stranded. 2-1 to Liverpool.
For Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger there will be soul-searching; The Gunners were poor in the final third of the field, with their only goal coming from a set-piece. Klopp has much to be pleased with – Liverpool were sparkling in attack and the combinations through the midfield and to the forwards was a feature of their play.