Jota and Salah on target as Liverpool cruise past Arsenal
Depleted champions begin crucial week with dominant win to close back in on top four
Liverpool's Diogo Jota scores their third goal at The Emirates Stadium. Photograph: PA
Arsenal 0 Liverpool 3
Substitute Diogo Jota scored twice as Liverpool showed that despite all of their injuries they remain one of the best sides in the Premier League by completely outclassing Arsenal to win 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City’s win at Leicester earlier in the day meant Liverpool’s hopes of retaining their title are now mathematically over after a season of terrible injury problems.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side were at their scintillating best, dominating an Arsenal side missing a number of their own key players to secure victory courtesy of a brace from Jota either side of a Mohamed Salah strike.
This was Mikel Arteta’s 50th Premier League fixture in charge of Arsenal and before the game he called for the Gunners to take the game to Liverpool, having won the corresponding fixture last year with a mixture of guile, guts and luck.
But Liverpool were on top from the get-go as the visitors showed their class — specifically in midfield where Thiago and Fabinho were at their best.
Arsenal sorely missed their injured quartet of David Luiz, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe — who would have all been likely starters on what would prove to be a galling night for the FA Cup holders.
James Milner came into the Liverpool side and dragged an early shot wide, as did Fabinho.
Milner should have scored when picked out free on the edge of the penalty area but sent his effort wide, while Arsenal’s evening was summed up when Kieran Tierney limped off injured just before the break.
But it would be Liverpool’s first alteration which would prove inspired as Jota replaced Andrew Robertson just after the hour and broke the deadlock with his first chance.
Trent Alexander-Arnold — who had been in the news after surprisingly failing to make the cut for Gareth Southgate’s England squad — delivered a pinpoint cross that was headed home by Jota as the Reds finally made their dominance pay.
Salah almost had a second as he latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Thiago, with Leno this time staying big and blocking the strike.
Jota turned home the third after Gabriel had gifted Liverpool possession with an errant pass from inside his own box.
A simple win for Klopp’s men saw them move to within two points of the top four, while Arsenal’s dwindling hopes of securing European qualification through their league position suffered yet another blow.
Next up for the champions is a blockbuster Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday night.