Liverpool increased their lead at the top of the Premier League table to a sizeable nine points on Saturday, after the in-form Reds thoroughly smashed Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield.
The Gunners came into the game hoping to enjoy their first win in seven Premier League trips to Anfield, and the visitors got off to the perfect start on 11 minutes, with wing-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles netting his first goal for Arsenal after great work from Alex Iwobi.
However, any hopes Unai Emery’s side had of inflicting a first league defeat for Liverpool were soon dispelled, with Roberto Firmino netting a quick-fire brace between 14 and 16 minutes.
The Brazilian’s first goal came after some unfortunate defending in the Arsenal box, with the striker prodding into an empty net.
Soon after, Firmino netted his second of the game, this time courtesy of an outstanding solo run after Lucas Torreira lost the ball in the middle of the pitch.
On the half-hour mark, Mo Salah set up Sadio Mané to make it 3-1 after a long-ball into the box far too easily bypassed Arsenal’s creaking backline.
Just before the break, Salah would score his first of the game, with the Egyptian converting a penalty after he found himself on the wrong end of a clumsy foul from Sokratis.
The Gunners simply couldn’t live with Liverpool’s intensity and speed of the play, and despite their record of producing strong second-half displays this season, they failed to breach the Reds’ defence again.
Indeed, it was the hosts who would score the sixth and final goal of the game just after the hour-mark, with the outstanding Firmino completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot, after Sead Kolasinac was rather harshly judged to have fouled Dejan Lovren in the box.
Emery sent on Alexandre Lacazette for the surprisingly ineffective Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the visitors were no match for the effervescent league leaders.
13 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had just 13 touches in Arsenal’s defeat at Anfield; six of which came from kick-offs. Lonely. pic.twitter.com/d11LCpuOqL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
The game would end 5-1 to Liverpool, a win which will see them end 2018 with a hefty lead at the top of the table.
As for the Gunners, there is much work to do, particular in defence, in the upcoming transfer window and beyond.