FeatureOn this day: Reds run rampant to stun Arsenal at Anfield
“A performance as explosive as it gets,” was how Steven Gerrard described a Liverpool display which electrified Anfield on this unforgettable afternoon in February 2014.
Arsenal rocked up at L4 high on confidence, top of the Premier League table and on an eight-game unbeaten run.
Arsene Wenger’s team were blown away, however, by an opening 20-minute blitz which saw Liverpool race into a four-goal lead and leave Reds fans thrilled and astonished in equal measure.
From the moment this game kicked off at Saturday lunchtime, Liverpool were irresistible.
Just 53 seconds had elapsed when the Reds opened the scoring, with Martin Skrtel finishing from close range from an inviting Gerrard free-kick.
That duo combined again for the Reds’ second goal on 10 minutes. Gerrard sent in an outswinging corner laced with whip, speed and dip, which the towering centre-back guided home with a wonderful stooping header.
You have to accept cookies in order to view this content on our site.
Liverpool were relentless. Daniel Sturridge shot wide when one-on-one with Wojciech Szczesny and Luis Suarez crashed a 25-yard howitzer against the post before the lead was extended on 16 minutes.
It was Suarez who created the third, with his pinpoint low cross giving Raheem Sterling the simplest of tasks to slot in at the back post.
“We absolutely demolished a top team,” added Gerrard in his post-match observations, and no-one inside Anfield – of a Liverpool persuasion or otherwise – could argue with that assessment.
Brendan Rodgers’ side mixed pace, penetration and adventure as they continued to swarm forward in numbers. Sturridge wasted little time in atoning for his earlier miss when he ruthlessly fired into the bottom corner after being played in by Philippe Coutinho’s eye-of-the-needle pass.
It was 4-0 after 20 minutes and Liverpool were playing football from the gods, but manager Rodgers later explained how his team’s control from this juncture provided almost as much satisfaction as their early onslaught.
“We had the appetite and hunger, and that was important,” he said. “I was also pleased with how we managed the game. At 4-0, the crowd wanted us to go for the throat, but it’s important we managed things.”
Indeed, the contest’s tempo gradually slowed a fraction following that breakneck opening, but the Reds still circulated possession with quality and purpose.
The fifth goal came seven minutes into the second half when Sterling latched onto Kolo Toure’s clever pass and beat Szczesny at the second attempt after the Polish stopper repelled his initial effort.
Sterling and Henderson had excellent chances to add the Reds’ sixth, while Suarez saw a sensational free-kick attempt athletically saved by Szczesny.
Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta netted a consolation from the penalty spot but that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of a euphoric Anfield, mesmerised by a display captain Gerrard hailed as “in the top three I have been involved in”.
“We were playing a side that was top of the league, with world-class players,” he added.
“I’m trying to think of a performance I can remember in the last 15 years [that was as good]. Maybe one or two in the Champions League got close.”
Manager Rodgers was equally effusive about his team’s exhilarating victory, which sparked an 11-game winning run.
"It was breathtaking, some of our play,” he said. “The intensity of our pressing and the goals were fantastic. It gave us a great platform.
“You don't get these games very often, but the performance level was absolutely out of this world.”