Some things do not change. For Liverpool, the 100 per cent start continues, meaning they have equalled their club record of 12 straight Premier League wins.
For Arsenal, the annual Anfield evisceration and another unpleasant lesson with unflattering figures. They have now gone 23 league games without victory away at the big six. They have conceded 15 goals in their last four visits to Anfield and can count themselves fortunate it was only three on this occasion.
Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah, with a brace, illustrated how Liverpool continue to highlight Arsenal’s shortcomings.
The goals they conceded were damning, the tactics they adopted baffling and David Luiz’s second-half performance chastening. Even without finding the net, Arsenal offered hints of their attacking menace, but their season could rest on whether they defend better. As Liverpool had 25 shots, this did not bode well.
Perhaps only Matteo Guendouzi and the scorer Lucas Torreira should escape blame. Certainly Dani Ceballos, so impressive against Burnley, only provided one defence-splitting pass, and that was to pick out Sadio Mane. Bernd Leno saved the Senegalese’s shot to come to his new team-mate’s rescue.
It was a reason why Arsenal preserved parity for longer than usual at Anfield, though the warning signs were flashing. Their tactics at Anfield have tended to be a case of trial and error. Unai Emery experimented with a formation lacking anyone outside the width of the penalty box. It rendered him looking naïve.
The flaw in the masterplan was that it allowed Liverpool’s full-backs, famously excellent attackers, a licence to roam. It was inevitable one supplied a goal: Trent Alexander-Arnold getting the assist from the 19th cross he and Andy Robertson had provided already, when Matip rose highest to head in.
The only element of shock was that it came from a corner and not in open play. It was entirely unsurprising that the influential Alexander-Arnold played a pivotal part in Liverpool’s second goal, or that he and Robertson continued to rain in crosses.
Like Liverpool, they are relentless in their running. Perhaps Arsenal were not beaten as much as exhausted, worn down to the extent where mistakes were made. Salah rifled in a penalty after David Luiz tugged him back. Arsenal’s defence was unlocked all too easily, Alexander-Arnold picking out Roberto Firmino, who supplied a deft touch into Salah’s pass.
Salah’s second was taken in typical fashion, but it was a further indication that his duel with David Luiz was a one-sided affair. Fabinho picked out the Egyptian with a perceptive pass from deep in his own half – something the scorer recognised by pointing to the midfielder in his celebrations – but David Luiz hurtled in, missing Salah and the ball as the forward span away and surged into the box.
Game over, though Torreira came off the bench to reduce the deficit after Alexander-Arnold had given the ball away. Arsenal could look back with regret at two more meaningful chances they had spurned to open the scoring. It is an understatement to call Adrian’s start to his Liverpool career eventful.
The Spaniard was the Super Cup shootout hero and responsible for the concession of a goal at Southampton last week. He was almost culpable for two in successive Saturdays, his stray kick going to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose long-range lob dropped just wide of the unguarded net.
Emery had benched Alexandre Lacazette and gave Nicolas Pepe his first start. Arsenal’s club-record buy afforded reasons for his inclusion with his raw pace.
He surged 60 yards, past Jordan Henderson and Robertson, only to mar his good work with a tame shot Adrian parried. Then Liverpool struck three times in 18 minutes to give Arsenal the familiar feeling of defeat at Anfield.