|Arsenal players celebrate after Gabriel Martinelli's opener on Sunday. Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2. (Photo credit: GOAL)|
Arsenal proved on Sunday that they deserve to be mentioned in the title conversations with a clinical and entertaining 3-2 success over Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal returned to the top of the log after beating Jurgen Klopp’s side, sweeping aside all talks of easy fixtures as they have now played three of the traditional top six and have now won eight of their opening nine games in the league.
Liverpool welcomed back a host of first-team players and fielded the best legs against the Gunners with Jordan Henderson leading the midfield battle alongside Thiago Alcantara as the double pivot and in a rare development, Diogo Jota was handed the number 10 role.
Arsenal lost Alex Zinchenko to injury and Takehiro Tomiyasu was named as left-back. It was always going to be a battle between the Japanese who was making his first start of the season in the league and Mohammed Salah but the Arsenal man had the upper hand throughout the contest.
It took less than a minute for Arsenal to grab the opener. Bukayo Saka fed Martin Odeegard and the Norwegian setup Gabriel Martinelli with a spatial pass that took out three Liverpool defenders and Martinelli finished things off with Arsenal’s earliest goal of the season.
Liverpool equalized through Darwin Nunez midway into the half but Saka restored the Gunners' advantage with a fine slide on a Martinelli pass of a brilliant Arsenal counterattack. A well-worked Jota pass set up Roberto Firminho for the equalizer before the hour mark and it became anyone’s game.
Klopp took out the highly ineffective Salah and introduced Fabinho to try to shore things up but Arsenal won a penalty after Alcantara was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus. Saka stepped up and scored what proved to be the winner from the spot.
Arsenal leads the log on 24 points and travels to Leeds next in the league but will be away to Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League in midweek. Liverpool host Manchester City next weekend and they continue to search for the spark in the growing season.