Liverpool v Arsenal: Live matchday blog
Liverpool moved nine points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 5-1 demolition of Arsenal at Anfield.
The Reds fell behind early on but responded emphatically and led 4-1 at half-time, thanks to Roberto Firmino's double, Sadio Mane's goal and Mohamed Salah's penalty.
Firmino then completed his hat-trick with a spot-kick of his own in the 65th minute.
Klopp: It's an exceptional result
Jürgen Klopp was understandably a happy man after watching his team demolish Arsenal 5-1.
Klopp on the nine-point lead at the top of the table: “It’s not important how far ahead you are in December… we have 54 points after 20 games because we were completely focused on the situation.”
Klopp on Salah allowing Firmino to take the second penalty: “2018 ends with a Christmas present from Mo Salah - I loved it.”
Jürgen Klopp in his post-match press conference: “The reaction [to going behind] I thought was brilliant. We didn’t concede a lot of goals this season so you don’t know how the reaction will be, but it was just outstanding.”
Van Dijk: Anything is possible
The big man spoke to BT Sport post-match here at Anfield. Here's what he had to say...
“Anything [is possible]. That’s how we should go out there and play – anything is possible.
“You still need to do it on the pitch but we are on a good way and we feel good. It’s obviously tough these days but it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player – and also a fan I think.
“We still need to improve a lot of things but obviously we’re very happy with the situation at the moment.
“We want to keep going and keep working hard and keep the intensity high, to make sure we keep doing well. That’s the only thing for it.”
The state of play...
It’s all over at Anfield and Liverpool have won 5-1.
The damage was mainly done in a phenomenal 30-minute spell in the first half, when the Reds responded to going behind by racking up four unanswered goals before the break, with Salah’s penalty supplementing Firmino’s brace and Mane’s goal.
Firmino then completed his hat-trick by converting the hosts’ second spot-kick of the match midway through the second period.
Liverpool now sit nine points clear at the top of the Premier League with a record of 17 victories and three draws from 20 games.
Stick with us for all the post-match reaction live from Anfield.
We're into three added minutes, and Leno has just palmed Salah's low attempt wide.
Close to number six!
Henderson side-foots Alexander-Arnold's pass wide from the edge of the area.
A third and final sub for Liverpool, and it's Clyne who comes on for Robertson.
Klopp makes his second change.
Lallana is on in place of Wijnaldum.
Iwobi gets in down the left after what looked to be a clear handball by Lacazette but Alisson and Van Dijk deal with his cross.
A second sub for Arsenal, with Lacazette on for Aubameyang.
Hat-trick for Firmino!!!
Our No.9 sends Leno the wrong way from the spot after Sokratis had pushed Lovren over in the area.
Penalty to Liverpool!!!
A sensational flick by Salah finds Fabinho in the box, but the Brazilian's low shot is saved by Leno.
A first change for the Reds, as Henderson replaces Mane.
Firmino, looking for his hat-trick, tests Leno from range, but the Arsenal 'keeper is equal to his shot.
Aubameyang somehow contrives to volley over from no more than two yards out with the goal at his mercy, but the offside flag is up anyway.
The Reds are on the hunt for a fifth.
Both Mane and Salah have been inches short of getting on the end of passes in behind the Arsenal backline in the opening minutes of the second half.
Salah has both scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the 10th time since the start of last season; only Neymar (11) has done so on more occasions in the 'big five' European leagues in that time.
Arsenal, for whom Koscielny has replaced Mustafi at half-time, get the second period started.
Check out the stats from that pulsating first half below...
Fancy a flutter?
Bet Victor have the Reds at 3/5 to score the game's sixth goal.
What a half of football at Anfield.
Maitland-Niles gave Arsenal the lead in the 11th minute when he converted Iwobi’s cross, but from then on, Liverpool were simply irresistible.
By the 15th minute, they were ahead thanks to Firmino’s quick-fire brace, which was then added to by Mane and Salah’s penalty.
Salah is felled in the area by Sokratis and picks himself up to convert the penalty.
AND SALAH SCORES FROM THE SPOT!!!
Penalty to Liverpool!
Did you know?
Mane has scored four Premier League goals against Arsenal for Liverpool - more than he has against any other opponent for the Reds.
Get in, Sadio!
Alexander-Arnold's corner is cleared to Robertson, who sends a great ball over to Salah.
Mo crosses for Sadio, who calmly sends a controlled half-volley into the roof of the net.
Superb, Liverpool. Absolutely superb.
Got your breath back yet?!
The game has simmered down a little since that frankly ridiculous four-minute spell that included three goals.
Arsenal have, in fairness, responded well to going behind, but they haven't particularly troubled Alisson Becker since Firmino's double.
'There's something that the Kop wants you to know...'
Brilliant Bobby stats
- There were exactly 90 seconds between Firmino's first and second goals.
- Firmino has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last seven Premier League games against Arsenal (7 goals, 3 assists). Only Robbie Fowler (9) has netted more Premier League goals against Arsenal for Liverpool than Firmino (7).
What a couple of minutes for the Reds as Firmino scores twice in quick succession to turn the game on its head.
The No.9's first goal came from a move he started by attempting to free Salah, and he was on hand to slot in the loose ball after a defensive mix-up.
Firmino's second was something a bit special, though, as he danced around two Arsenal defenders and finished with ice-cool precision.
Again, the Reds are sloppy in possession, with Lovren guilty of ceding possession this time.
Iwobi bursts down the left and finds Maitland-Niles with his cross to the back post, with Arsenal's No.15 sliding in to convert.
Maitland-Niles gives Arsenal the lead.
Alisson makes a smart save to deny Iwobi after Fabinho had given the ball away in midfield.
A warning for the Reds.
A first real foray forward from the visitors ends with Ramsey unable to control Lichsteiner's pass in the area.
Then, at the other end, Mane surges down the left and finds Firmino with a cutback, but the Brazilian's shot hits Salah and goes behind.
A fast start from Liverpool and Robertson swings in a cross that just has a touch too much power for Mane to connect with.
The atmosphere is superb here, too.
And we're off.
Liverpool, attacking the Anfield Road end in the first half, get us under way.
The teams are in the tunnel and kick-off is just a few minutes away.
After Tottenham's defeat to Wolves, Liverpool will go nine points clear at the top of the table with a win this evening.
Up the Reds!
In the building
This was the Reds arriving into Anfield a short while ago...
Behind the red door...
Final words from the boss
Klopp spoke to BT Sport ahead of kick-off, discussing his line-up and Arsenal’s…
On the difficulty of selecting a team…
“We have no time to think about that, to be honest. It’s game after game – nobody looks more disappointed than they should be and nobody thinks too much about things like that. It’s the moment. We are focused on the games coming up and that’s enough to think about actually.”
On the problems Arsenal pose…
“There are two things. Generally, the quality of Arsenal is one thing – the combination of speed, technical skills and good organisation makes it difficult. On the other hand, we were not at our best in that period of the season [when the sides last played each other]. But since then we improved a lot, we had to. We have to be much better than we were in the last game. It’s about how we defend – the probability of if you win a game or not depends 100 per cent on how you defend. We have to defend Arsenal whatever line-up they choose; we saw the team but the line-up is still an open question. He can do different things with these players. And whatever they do, we have to be ready to defend them and to try to use all the spaces we can create with our own runs, our own passes and our own movements. It will be intense, for sure.”
Here's how our friends at Opta expect the sides to line up...
Thomas brings the trophy
Europe's Ryder Cup-winning captain and fanatical Red Thomas Bjorn is at Anfield today - and he's brought a friend with him.
Stay tuned to LFCTV GO for an exclusive interview with him.
Arsenal's starting line-up: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
Subs: Cech, Koscielny, Elneny, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Lacazette.
Liverpool make just one change to their starting line-up against Arsenal this evening as Fabinho comes in for Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Mignolet, Clyne, Keita, Henderson, Sturridge, Lallana, Origi.
Trent takes the mic
Pre-match media duties are successfully tackled by Alexander-Arnold.
If you're unable to watch this one, why not enjoy the most passionate LFC commentary around instead? We'll be broadcasting live from Anfield and you can listen for free by clicking here.
For one final time this year...
Both sets of players will wear black armbands during today's game as a mark of respect following the passing of former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood.
Klopp knows Aubameyang threat
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player the Liverpool boss knows well from their time together at Borussia Dortmund, comes into this round of matches as the Premier League's top scorer.
Asked about the danger the Arsenal forward poses, Klopp said: "He is an outstanding player and an outstanding person. He has the mindset of a proper goalscorer.
"The combination of speed and finishing skills is pretty rare – that makes him an exceptional player.
"Of course he is a threat, in the big space and the small space. And he is good in heading as well. It's a nice package Arsenal bought there."
Fear not, dear reader, your much-cherished Liverpoolfc.com Weather Update Alert™ is here - and in good time ahead of kick-off.
It's a bright day on Merseyside and sources inform us no rain is forecast, but it's very windy. Dead windy, in fact.
That, however, is likely to subside closer to kick off, where the trusty old temperature gauge will be around the nine-degree mark.
Our recommendation? Wear a warm coat if you're attending the fixture. As always, hats, gloves and scarfs optional.
Last time out...
Liverpool beat Newcastle United 4-0 at Anfield last time out, with goals coming from Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho.
Relive how the day unfolded in 'Inside Anfield' below...
Andy Robertson took some time out of his preparations on Friday afternoon to sit down with us at Melwood to look ahead to today's game.
And the Scot was keen to stress how Liverpool are paying no interest to their current position in the Premier League table.
"I don’t think we’re a squad or a whole department as such that look at the table a lot, I think we very much concentrate on the next game and we know if we look after ourselves and get the results we need then the table will look after itself," he said.
"Nobody would’ve imagined that Man City would’ve dropped six points in the last two games, but that’s what can happen in the Premier League and we’re no fools to think that it can’t happen to us. We have to be at our best in every game to win them or get what we deserve, and we know how hard this game’s going to be against Arsenal, who are a fantastic team that have had a great season under a new manager and are just finding their feet.
"We know how tough it’ll be. We’ll be looking to get all three points, but we know we have to be at 100 per cent to get them."
You can watch our chat with Robertson in full below via LFCTV GO.
There was mixed news for Liverpool in the build up to tonight's encounter, with James Milner still sidelined with a hamstring injury and Dominic Solanke also ruled out. Alberto Moreno is back in contention, but Joe Gomez and Joel Matip remain absent.
For Arsenal, they were due to check on the fitness of Shkodran Mustafi, but they do have doubts over Nacho Monreal (hamstring) and Emile Smith Rowe (groin).
Five players are definitely ruled out for the Gunners - Hector Bellerin (calf), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Rob Holding (knee), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (foot) and Danny Welbeck (ankle).
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this week took another step forward on the road back to full fitness when he began running outside at Melwood.
Jürgen Klopp expressed his delight at the news during his pre-match press conference on Friday, saying: "We are usually not that excited about something like this but a lot of things can happen, it’s true it still can happen a lot after being out for that long time, but it looked so positive.
“It is just nice to have him around with a smile on his face again. He very often has a smile on his face, but now with good reason. He is obviously happy and we are very happy.”
The manager's sentiments are echoed by Jordan Henderson in his column for today's official matchday programme.
He writes: "Knowing how tough it is makes the attitude the Ox has shown during his rehab inspirational beyond belief. He’s a massive character, as I’m sure all the Arsenal players and staff who were with him during his time there will testify to, so he’s someone that can influence a group in a positive way through force of personality.
“Although he’s still relatively young, Ox is someone all of the dressing room look up to. He is a person with whom teammates of all ages, young and old, will talk things through and bounce ideas off. I’m sure there are times when he is down, but he has never shown it around the team. I’m sure there have been times when it’s been hard to be energetic and enthusiastic at Melwood, but again he’s never shown that around others. I’m sure there are times when coming to matches and supporting the boys is hard because it emphasises what you are missing, but he’s always one of the loudest voices cheering us on."
Alisson Becker adorns the front of today's official matchday programme, which you can buy online by clicking here.
What are the odds?
How do the bookmakers see tonight's game?
Well, our official partner BetVictor has the answer.
You can place your bets and view more match specials with BetVictor by clicking here.
'...he's our number four...'
Thursday marked one year to the day since Liverpool agreed a deal to sign Virgil van Dijk.
It's fair to say the big man has had an incredible last 12 months have been eventful with the with the Reds, so we sat down with him to discuss all the main talking points of his Anfield career to date.
Read 'Virgil van Dijk's first LFC year: In his own words' by clicking here.
My, you look familiar...
Liverpool and Arsenal met just eight weeks ago when they played out a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium.
Indeed, the Gunners are one of only three teams to stop the Reds winning in the Premier League this season.
Watch the key moments of the last clash between the sides below.
As always, Ged Rea has dropped his pre-match stat pack ahead of the game. Here are some of the key points...
- If the Reds avoid defeat against the Gunners, it will mean they have remained unbeaten in the opening 20 league games of a season for only the third time in their history – and the first since 1988.
- The Reds have now extended their unbeaten home league run to 30 games. They have won 21 and drawn nine since losing to Crystal Palace in April 2017. Only on four previous occasions have they gone 30 or more without defeat in front of the Kop. If they avoid defeat in this clash, 31 matches will be their joint-third longest streak ever.
Liverpool have 51 points from 19 league outings - their best start to a top-flight campaign in their history. They are 16 points better off than at this stage last season.
A victory today will see Liverpool take 88 points from 37 league fixtures in 2018, which at 2.38 would be their best ever points-per-game ratio in a calendar year in their history.
Liverpool have won 19 Premier League games against Arsenal, with the Gunners winning 15 and 19 draws. At Anfield in this era, the Reds have recorded 12 victories, drawing eight and losing six. Jürgen Klopp’s men are unbeaten in the last seven, with three wins and four stalemates.
Liverpool have scored from the 90th minute onwards against Arsenal in three of the last four Anfield encounters. The fixtures have now produced 17 goals in added time - a Premier League record.
The manager's view...
As is standard procedure, Jürgen Klopp hosted his pre-match media conference at Melwood on Friday to look ahead to today's game.
As always, you can watch everything the boss had to say for free via our YouTube clip below.
So, we meet again dear reader. It's matchday - and it's a big one.
Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield in today's 5.30pm GMT kick-off as the Reds aim to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
It promises to be quite the encounter - and you'll be able to find out how it turns out by sticking with us throughout the day.
But first, it's time for a morning coffee. Milk no sugar, please. Ta.