Arsenal’s defensive woes were on display yet again and Liverpool took full advantage as they put on a convincing performance at Anfield to run out 3-1 winners. Goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane gave the hosts a two-goal advantage going into the break.
Arsenal were a different side in the second half with Alexis Sanchez’s introduction, and got one back through Danny Welbeck, but a rapid counterattack in the closing stages of the game was finished off by Wijnaldum to hand the Reds all three points and send the Gunners out of the top four.
Take a look at how the players fared.
Simon Mignolet – 6/10
Mignolet produced a great save off an Olivier Giroud header early in the second half to keep his side two goals to the good. Apart from that, he had little to do though he did look suspect against crosses into the box, often making a mess of relatively simple catches. He could do nothing to stop Danny Welbeck’s goal.
James Milner – 7/10
Milner produced a great performance at left back denying Bellerin, Iwobi and then Walcott any space to get good crosses into the box. He was involved in Liverpool’s second goal as he found Firmino with a clever ball into the box before the Brazilian picked out Mane who finished off the move. Milner also delivered a couple of great free kicks, with one of them almost leading to a goal. However, Origi’s header cannoned off the right-hand side post.
Ragnar Klavan – 8/10
Klavan had a solid game in the centre of the defence and used his strength and physicality to deal with Perez and the other Arsenal attackers in the second half. In the first half, he did not have much to do but prevented Giroud from having any impact on the game whatsoever. The defender made a total of two tackles and five interceptions to keep the Arsenal attackers at bay.
Joel Matip – 7/10
Matip too had a good game, making six tackles and two interceptions to stem Arsenal's fightback. He produced a vital block in the final minutes of the game to prevent Sanchez from scoring the equaliser. That block also started a Liverpool counter which led to their third goal. Matip could have bagged himself a goal as well when he got on the end of a Coutinho free-kick, however, he couldn't make the right contact and the ball ended up in the hands of the keeper.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6/10
The former Southampton man had a good first half as he was afforded plenty of space on the right-hand side. He did, however, fade as the game progressed and had a tough time keeping Alexis Sanchez in check in the second half.
Emre Can – 6/10
Can broke up quite a few Arsenal attacks in the midfield. He picked up four fouls on the night as well as a yellow card, which was for a good cause as he brought down Sanchez to prevent an Arsenal counter attack.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7/10
Wijnaldum was not flashy but he did have a solid game and even managed to get himself a goal with a neat finish in the dying stages of the match.
Philippe Coutinho – 8/10
The Brazilian is slowly getting back to his best and he produced another masterclass in midfield tonight. Coutinho had six shots – two on target – and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as he had a stinging left-footed strike saved by Cech in the first half. Coutinho also had the third-most touches on the ball (65) by a Liverpool player on the night as he dictated proceedings in the middle of the park.
Adam Lallana – 7/10
Most of Liverpool’s attacks came through the Englishman as he ran his heart out in the midfield as always. Lallana pressed Coquelin into a couple of errors in the first half and his energy and zest were too much for the Arsenal midfield to handle. He also set up his side’s final goal with a great pass out wide to Origi who then found Wijnaldum for the finish.
Sadio Mane – 9/10
Mane was right on the money for Liverpool yet again as he bagged a goal and an assist on the night. The Senegalese produced a wicked cross into the box for Firmino to finish early on before finding the net himself in the 40th minute with a well-taken goal. Mane was a constant menace on the right flank, often leaving Monreal chasing shadows. A Man of the Match performance by the Senegalese.
Roberto Firmino – 8/10
Firmino’s pace and trickery were too much to handle for the Arsenal defenders on quite a few occasions. The Brazilian gave his side the lead with a tap-in in the 9th minute before turning provider for Mane for Liverpool's second.
Divock Origi – 7/10
Origi replaced Coutinho for the final 10 minutes of the game and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as his glancing header struck the bottom of the post. He did set up Wijnaldum for Liverpool’s third off a rapid counterattack. Overall, a great cameo from the youngster.
Lucas Leiva – N/A
Trent Alexander-Arnold – N/A
Petr Cech – 5/10
The Arsenal keeper produced a great save flying to his right to deny Coutinho a goal in the first half, however, that was the only highlight of his game as he could not prevent Liverpool from banging in three goals.
Hector Bellerin – 5/10
Bellerin had a decent game offensively but could be faulted for Liverpool’s second goal as he allowed Milner time and space to pick out a pass instead of closing him down and snuffing out the attack. In the attacking department, he put in a great ball into the box for Giroud and Sanchez to attack early in the second half, however, both of them failed to get on the end of it.
Shkodran Mustafi – 5/10
Mustafi was not great defensively but he did manage to deliver a couple of great through balls in behind the Liverpool defence in the second half to set up a few Arsenal attacks. The German was also caught on the wrong side of Coutinho in the first half and was lucky that the Brazilian fluffed his shot. Mustafi did make a crucial interception in the second half, though, to keep his side in the game as he slid in to clear the ball with Firmino getting ready to tap it into an empty net.
Laurent Koscielny – 6/10
Koscielny was at fault for Liverpool’s first goal as he failed to win a header against Firmino in the build-up to the goal which resulted in him being caught out of position. He was, however, Arsenal’s best defender as he won a total of 10 aerial dues and made five interceptions to go with his five tackles.
Nacho Monreal – 4/10
Monreal’s defensive frailties were brought to the forefront yet again as he was completely destroyed on the right flank by Mane and co. Monreal was caught out of position for both Liverpool’s goals and did not provide much in the attacking sense either.
Francis Coquelin – 4/10
Coquelin had a poor first half and was often robbed of possession by Lallana and co. far too easily. He failed to provide adequate cover for his defence and was brought off at half-time as Arsenal looked to get back in the game.
Granit Xhaka – 4/10
Xhaka put on yet another poor performance in an Arsenal shirt. In Sanchez and Ozil’s absence, it was up to the Swiss to build up play from the back and link the defence and attack, however, he did not do a great job of it. Xhaka played quite a few misplaced passes and even earned himself a yellow card late in the second half for dissent.
Alex Iwobi – 4/10
Iwobi had a poor game by his standards as he could just not produce anything going forwards for his side. He gave away possession cheaply on a couple of occasions and was moved to the right flank after Sanchez came on. He struggled there too and the Nigerian will be looking to put this performance out of his mind as soon as he possibly can.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6/10
The Englishman was one of Arsenal’s better players on the night as he completed two key passes and managed three successful dribbles, the highest by an Arsenal player. He was brought into the middle of the park after Coquelin’s withdrawal and struggled to make an impact thereafter.
Danny Welbeck – 7/10
Welbeck got Arsenal back into the game in the second half with a neat finish. Apart from Sanchez, the Englishman was the only player in the Arsenal side who looked to have any desire to win the game as he pressed high up the pitch and tried to draw errors from the Liverpool backline. He could be blamed for Liverpool’s second goal as he was caught ball watching instead of marking Sadio Mane.
Olivier Giroud – 4/10
Giroud had a shocking first half, however, that could be due to the lack of service he received from his midfielders. He had a great chance to get the Gunners back in the game in the second half, however, his shot was palmed onto the post by Mignolet. The Frenchman, who looked like he was carrying a knock in the game, was brought off with 20 minutes to go.
Alexis Sanchez – 7/10
The Chilean came on with Arsenal chasing the game and sparked them into action as he provided the assist for Welbeck’s goal with a delightful through ball in behind the defence. Sanchez had a great chance to get his side the equaliser in stoppage time, however, his shot was blocked by Matip.
Lucas Perez – 4/10
Perez did not get enough service to make any kind of impact on the game after replacing Giroud in the 73rd minute.
Theo Walcott – 5/10
Walcott replaced Welbeck in the 73rd minute and made a couple of runs in behind the defence, however, he could manage just six touches on the ball and was well dealt with by the Liverpool defence.