Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Diogo Jota were in their elements as Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.
Liverpool were the better of the two sides pretty much from the get-go and spent large parts of the opening period in the Arsenal half. However, some poor decision-making and sub-par finishing meant that they could not break the deadlock. It was more of the same post the interval, but by the time Diogo Jota was introduced around the hour mark, you could sense that the goal was coming.
The opener finally came in the 64th minute, as Jota headed in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross. Shortly after, Mohamed Salah found the back of the net after being released by Fabinho, scoring through Bernd Leno’s legs for good measure. Arsenal hardly managed to ramp up the pressure post that and their misery was completed late on.
Jota was on target once again, with Alexander-Arnold and Salah involved again before he scored from close range. The result meant that after Chelsea’s shock defeat to West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool are now just two points behind the Blues while Arsenal seem to have been left with next to no chance of a top-four finish. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
Bernd Leno: 4/10
Leno did make a couple of big saves, but he did not have much of a chance to deny Diogo Jota for either of his goals. Having said that, the Arsenal no. 1 ought to have reacted better when Mohamed Salah nutmegged him for Liverpool’s second. Completed just over half his attempted passes.
Calum Chambers: 3/10
Picked once again as the right-back, Chambers was turned inside out by Sadio Mane over the course of the game. Did make numerous clearances but hardly won any duel (2/14). Might have lost his place in the side.
Rob Holding: 5/10
Selected ahead of Pablo Mari, Holding had a chance to prove his credentials. However, this was just not the game to do so, as he struggled against the movement of Roberto Firmino. Should have done better to get his head to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross before Jota scored. An opportunity lost.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 4/10
Back in the starting lineup, Gabriel was largely solid in the first half and made some critical interventions. However, he was poor in the build-up to Salah’s goal, with his decision to not stay on his feet being quite shocking. Lost possession sloppily under pressure as well, including in the lead up to the Egyptian’s goal.
The starting positions were generally a mess. Gabriel looked so slow covering that ground. Those legs were very heavy.
The attempted challenge is one he makes 99 times out of 100. He mistimes it, mistakes happen, but he should never have been in a position where it was needed. pic.twitter.com/LuCzLBHLiq
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) April 3, 2021
Kieran Tierney: 5/10
The first blow for Arsenal came when Tierney had to go off injured. Before then, he still managed to keep a lid on Salah’s output. However, post his substitution, Arsenal crumbled from the left flank. Mikel Arteta will hope his injury is not too serious.
Thomas Partey: 5/10
A player who tried his utmost to power his way out of the midfield mess that Arsenal found themselves in, Partey did make some important defensive contributions (4 interceptions and 3 tackles). However, he could not make a telling difference in the end, as Liverpool eventually ran away with the game.
Dani Ceballos: 4/10
Granit Xhaka was not passed to be fit to start and that meant that Ceballos was handed a start. The Spaniard, though, was a mess in the middle of the park, where he was overrun by Liverpool, losing possession several times as a result. Did not manage a single key pass either in what was a terrible performance.
Nicolas Pepe: 4/10
With Bukayo Saka not fit enough to be involved, Pepe was given a chance to impress, which is exactly what he did not do. Both Andrew Robertson and James Milner had the measure of the Ivorian, who managed just one shot all game and was constantly overpowered. Poor.
Martin Odegaard: 5/10
The real danger man for Arsenal was identified early by Liverpool, who put Fabinho on him. As a result, the Norwegian never really managed to find ways to make things happen, even though he misplaced just two passes all game. A frustrating night all around.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 3/10
The Player to Watch in our preview was a total dud. Aubameyang was completely listless and never once got the better of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Appeared disinterested at times and something has to give for him now, especially with his Arsenal future starting to have question marks around it.
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
A frustrating night for Lacazette, who, in fairness, never really came into the game due to the utter dominance of Liverpool on the proceedings. Did not manage a single shot at goal, unsurprisingly so.
Cedric Soares: 4/10
On for Tierney at half-time, Cedric struggled up against Salah, including in the build-up to the second Liverpool goal, when the Egyptian had acres of space to run in behind him. Tested Alisson Becker with a decent effort, but that is as good as it got for him.
Mohamed Elneny: 4/10
On for Ceballos, Elneny was introduced to add more steel in midfield, which never came, as Liverpool continued in their merry ways. Just not the answer for the solutions that Arteta was seeking.
Gabriel Martinelli: N/A
On for Aubameyang, Martinelli did not have enough time to make an impact. Suffered a nasty-looking scare before walking off unscathed.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Rocking a new look, Alisson eased to another much-needed clean sheet, having been forced to make just a couple of regulation saves. Completed most of the passes he attempted when playing out from the back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 9/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool vs. Arsenal:
◉ Most open-play crosses (6)
◉ Most chances created (4)
◉ Most interceptions (3)
Are you watching, Gareth Southgate? 👀 pic.twitter.com/1UWmiaWwom
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 3, 2021
Signs that a difficult season could be ended on a positive note. Alexander-Arnold was purposeful in his display all game long and he should have had an assist to show for his efforts in the first half when James Milner shot wide. Finally had his assist when Diogo Jota headed in from his cross and Alexander-Arnold was also involved in the build-up to the third. Top class.
Nathaniel Phillips: 8/10
Fresh off of being named Liverpool’s Player of the Month for March, the confidence was seeping through Phillips, who did not put a foot wrong when Arsenal found rare moments to test him. Won 8 duels while making 5 clearances, 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 block. Nailing down his spot in the side.
Ozan Kabak: 7/10
A pretty straightforward outing for Kabak, who combined superbly with Phillips once again to help Liverpool to a clean sheet. Won each of the 3 aerial duels he contested while completing nearly 90 percent of his attempted passes. A performance that showed why Liverpool should sign him.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
The decision to take Robertson off for Jota appeared to be a surprising one, but that is where the game changed. Before then, the Scotsman carried a great deal of threat down the left flank, putting in some dangerous crosses. Kept a check on Pepe expertly. Will be glad to get some rest now ahead of the Real Madrid game.
Thiago Alcantara: 7/10
There are still some moments where it is visible that Thiago has some way to go before becoming the force in midfield he can be. However, the positives outweighed the negatives on Saturday, as the Spanish international recycled possession smartly while also putting in the hard yards off the ball.
Fabinho vs. Arsenal
89% Pass accuracy
2/2 Dribbles completed
9/12 Ground duels won
2/2 Aerial duels won
6/6 Tackles won
He's just fantastic. The big stringy monster of a man is unplayable on nights like tonight. You might as well pack it up and go home. Like Arsenal did. pic.twitter.com/8G53lelKfd
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) April 3, 2021
Things have been different for Liverpool ever since Fabinho returned to midfield and this was another game that showed just why he must be the holding midfielder for Liverpool. Handed the visitors total control over the game, which enabled the Reds to overpower Arsenal gradually.
James Milner: 7/10
One of the Liverpool players who were guilty of being profligate in front of goal, with his close-range effort inexplicably being directed wide. Solid enough in his defensive duties, though, winning 4 duels, but he was also a tad bit wasteful on the ball, losing possession 10 times.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
He might have been on the score sheet against Arsenal, but Salah really should have had a hat-trick on the night. Some of his finishes were atrocious, but the one for his goal was delightful, as he made amends for the earlier misses. Still needs to do better.
Roberto Firmino: 8/10
A top-class display by Firmino on his return to the side. Might not have a goal or an assist to show for his efforts but on another day, he could have had multiple direct contributions to a goal. Created one brilliant chance for Salah that was not converted. A step in the right direction.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
A game of hits and misses for Mane, who left a lot to be desired with some of his decision-making but should also have had an assist to show for his efforts in the first half. Did eventually grab one, albeit with a poor first touch. Has to step up still.
Diogo Jota: 9/10
Diogo Jota has now scored 8 Premier League goals this season, making him Liverpool’s second top scorer in the competition. This is despite him starting just 8 games.
An impressive start to his LFC career. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/TiyBUDSC7N
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 3, 2021
The man who turned things around, Jota scored with just his second touch, as he powered in his header from Alexander-Arnold’s cross. Popped up to score Liverpool’s third late on, pouncing on a poor touch by Mane to find the back of the net. What a gem at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal.
Georginio Wijnaldum: N/A
On for Firmino in the 77th minute, Wijnaldum did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Rhys Williams: N/A
A late introduction, Williams helped see the game out.