Liverpool, England, Sep 28 (efe-epa).- Arsenal showed signs Monday of their steady improvement but still were no match for defending Premier League champion Liverpool, who rallied from a goal down to win 3-1 and remain perfect in the new season.
The Reds dominated over the first 45 minutes in behind-closed-doors Matchday 3 action at Anfield, an early goal notwithstanding, and showed a constant ability to threaten in the final third even though the match was more evenly contested after the intermission.
The home side nearly opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a header by Virgil Van Dijk that David Luiz had to clear away for a corner and then on a half-volley by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 21st minute that hit off of Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin and struck the crossbar.
The Gunners, however, had planned to cede possession and look for chances on the counter-attack and an opportunity finally came in the 25th minute.
On the play, Ainsley Maitland-Niles raced down the left side and sent in a cross that should have been cleared away by Andrew Robertson.
Instead, the Scottish defender casually tapped the ball toward the penalty spot and an awaiting Alexandre Lacazette, who spun around and sent a slow-bouncing volley just out of the reach of Liverpool goalie Alisson, who had hit the turf expecting a lower shot.
But the lead only lasted for three minutes.
The equalizer was set up by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who burst away from Kieran Tierney on the right side and launched a shot on goal. Although Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno managed to bat the ball away, it went straight to Sadio Mane for an easy tap-in volley.
The goal was well-deserved for a club that was fully dominating the contest, having had possession more than three-fourths of the time and tallied nine shots to Arsenal’s one at that juncture.
Liverpool’s relentless intensity then paid off again in the 34th minute, when Robertson redeemed himself for his earlier defensive blunder by getting on the other side of a cross by Alexander-Arnold, controlling the ball with his chest and poking a shot past Leno.
Arsenal was more competitive after the break and had a few chances to knot the contest at 2-2, although Lacazette twice failed to convert one-on-one opportunities against Alisson.
Liverpool, meanwhile, continued to pose a constant threat and added to their lead when Portuguese substitute forward Diogo Jota, who was making his debut with the Reds and had missed a couple of chances earlier, opened his account in the 88th minute.
The goal was reviewed by VAR for a possible hand ball by Jota but was allowed to stand.
“I have to say. I really liked it. We were dominant, we played football, we were difficult to defend, the counter-press was top, attitude was great and played some really good stuff. Arsenal had not too many, but some, chances because they have real quality,” Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp was quoted as saying afterward on the team’s official website.
The loss was fifth-place Arsenal’s first of the young season, while Liverpool (nine points) are in second place behind only Leicester City (3-0-0) based on goal differential.
In one other Premier League game on Monday, Aston Villa recorded their second straight win to start the season by routing host Fulham 3-0.
The Birmingham club, however, will face a daunting challenge when they host Liverpool in Matchday 4 action on Sunday. EFE-EPA