For the first time in five years, Arsenal had made it to the 40th minute at Anfield without conceding a goal, and they looked a decent bet to get a result.

But then Joel Matip intervened and, suddenly, the game had a similar feel to the one-sided affairs witnessed in recent seasons.

It didn’t end up with as convincing a scoreline as past campaigns, largely thanks to the Gunners’ transformation into a less flimsy unit under Unai Emery.

But the visitors still aren’t quite at Liverpool’s level – the level of Premier League leaders who have designs on finally clinching the trophy this year.

Standard Sport’s David Lynch was at Anfield, and here’s his Liverpool analysis…


Starting berth should be Matip’s to lose

Klopp doesn’t often spring surprises when picking his team for big games, and so his starting XI for this one was entirely predictable in truth.

But there was at least one interesting aspect of the German’s selection: his decision to play Matip ahead of Joe Gomez in the centre of defence.

Photo: REUTERS

The pair have been battling for the right to partner Virgil van Dijk in the early stages of this season, and both had been given opportunities to prove their worth as first choice.

However, Matip’s performance against Arsenal may well have finally made his manager’s mind up for him – for the foreseeable future, at least. 

As well as scoring the crucial opener, the former Schalke man was a rock in defence and a constant architect of Liverpool attacks with his incisive passing and ability to dribble.

As hard as it might be on the improving Gomez, Matip deserves to keep his shirt until injury or form dictates otherwise.


Set-piece goal shows range of Reds threat

With 40 minutes gone at Anfield, Unai Emery was likely planning a half-time team talk that centred on his side sticking to the tactical plan that had worked so well for them thus far.

But then Matip popped up to power a header beyond Bernd Leno and the complexion changed entirely.

Liverpool’s front three are rightly highlighted as their biggest overall goal threat, but it is the fact that they can hurt you in so many different ways that makes them a truly great team.

And set-pieces are just one of the many weapons in the Reds’ arsenal, as they proved in profiting from one just as their visitors looked to be getting settled.

They aren’t always pretty to watch, but goals like those set the platform for big wins, as was the case here.


High standards sets LFC apart

Three goals up and cruising, you’d think Liverpool’s players would be making the most of the rare opportunity to enjoy a tricky top-six clash.

Yet the mentality of Klopp’s team was underlined in a second-half spell that saw two rollickings dished out by the home team.

Firstly, Jordan Henderson got stuck into Sadio Mane for failing to track his man, before Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson engaged in a similarly heated conversation about their defensive duties. 

It was a timely insight into the standards set by the reigning European champions, whose hunger for trophies isn’t sated yet. 


Klopp won’t be happy with sloppy finish

Of course, if you set those standards, then you have to live up to them at all times, and that is something Liverpool failed to do towards the end of this game.

Though its creation was aided by a fortunate bounce, Klopp was apoplectic when Arsenal snatched a goal back through Lucas Torreira in the final moments at Anfield.

Photo: EPA

It marked the end of a period in which the Reds’ passing had been uncharacteristically sloppy and their pressing not quite as sharp as before.

There will be tighter games where letting your foot off the gas in such fashion is punished, and Klopp will be keen to stamp that out of his team’s game

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