Liverpool as a club show where good management gets you.
Arsenal were ahead of them in most of the things that matter, six or seven years ago.
Arteta made six changes including resting Aubameyang, adding Nelson, playing Torriera in midfield for Ceballos. Kolasinac and Mustafi were dropped for Holding and Soares.
The feeling coming into this one, was pretty negative, given the WHL defeat. But could Arsenal keep their unbeaten home record for 2020? How much would Liverpool, whose game is based on intensity drop off? Would they bust a gut to get to the 100 points total? The near full-strength line up indicated their intentions.
Arsenal did look sluggish at the start – a hang-over from the defeat at Tottenham and the number of games in quick succession.
But Saka did well to force a corner in first five.
Martinez dawdled on a clearance and was lucky not to concede via a rebound off Firmino’s boot which crashed onto a post.
Martinez cleared – Robertson won the header, Firmino passed back to him and cut it back to Mane who had found space to knock it into the net, as the Arsenal defence had moved out too far from the initial clearance. All too easy – but perhaps a blessing in disguise, as the champions seemed to let their foot off the pedal after that.
Nelson had an opportunity via a long ball from Holding but didn’t have the confidence to shoot and passed to no-one in the middle.
Xhaka then sent a good ball for Nelson to chase but it ran off his knee.
But the south-Londoner made amends when he harassed van Dyke, into sending a ball short to Allison and Lacazette nipped in to round the Brazilian and knock it on to the net.
But the Arsenal tendency for defensive mistakes reared its head as Holding dribbled out and lost it – but luckily Fabinho gave away a foul in the counter.
A sloppy pass out from Alisson was intercepted by Lacazette who found Nelson in the area who fired it into the corner for Arsenal’s second – and his first Premier League goal.
A Liverpool onslaught was predicted in the second half and in the first five there was pin ball in the Arsenal area, with players putting bodies on the line.
Arsenal have lost 21 points from winning positions this season – so the prognosis wasn’t rosy.
Van Dyke tried to make amends by sending a long ball for Alexander-Arnold on the right who cut it back for Salah who lobbed it towards the top of the net – but Martinez saved well.
Mane sent a cute pass to substitute Minamino who fired wide across Martinez.
It was attack v defence – as Liverpool exerted a stranglehold on possession – 79% in the second half with 17 shots. But Arsenal’s defensive organization held up for a welcome if unexpected win.
It removed a few monkeys off the back – it was Arsenal’s first victory against Liverpool in five years – and first win against a team sitting top in four.
Goalscorer Reiss Nelson said: “It’s a big achievement. A great result. We will try and take it into the next game.
“The boss said keep pressing and put them under pressure.”
Van Dyke said: “The goal we gave them was a present. We were dominating. We gave them two goals. We gave them opportunities. You get what you deserve. The goals shouldn’t happen. It was a moment of concentration – I have to deal with it, take it as a man and move on.”
Mikel Arteta said: “The energy and happiness in dressing room is good medicine. There were moments in the game when you have to take your chances and defend a lot and you need a bit of luck.”
He added that the gap between the two teams is enormous, but the fight, energy commitment is equal. “With that we can create something.”
He also said that the competition is harder than it was before, when Wenger first started, and in a clear message to the Arsenal management – that you need to improve the squad with quality players.
Jurgen Klopp said: “Twice there was a massive lack of concentration. We took a break after we scored the goal, then we chased the game. You can’t win games when you concede goals like that. You can’t do that in the Premier League. We have to learn from it. We were constantly dominant. But credit to Arsenal – they were there.”
Arsenal: Martínez, Holding, David Luiz, Tierney, Cédric Soares (Substituted for Maitland-Niles 76), Torreira (Booked at 46,Substituted for Ceballos at 57,Booked at 90), Xhaka (Booked at 81), Saka (Substituted for Kolasinac at 85), Nelson (Substituted for Aubameyang at 58),Lacazette (Substituted for Willock at 57),Pépé.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Booked at 48), Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Substituted for Keita at 61), Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Substituted for Shaqiri at 83), Salah (Substituted for Origi at 83), Firmino (Substituted for Minamino at 61), Mané.