Ahead of their return to European club football’s premier competition this week with a quarter-final showdown against Real Madrid, Liverpool reignited their push for a place in next season’s Champions League.
The reigning Premier League champions won 3-0 at Arsenal and following on from Chelsea’s shock 5-2 defeat at home to relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion earlier in the day, Jurgen Klopp’s side are now just two points off the top four.
Here’s a round-up of how the national media reported on the game at the Emirates.
Not to their best but Liverpool are back
Rob Draper, Mail on Sunday
Liverpool are back. Not back to their best. That would be absurd. A longer period of rehabilitation will be required to return to the heights of the last two years after so great a fall from grace.
But back in the game, certainly. On the day they surrendered their title, no longer mathematically able to catch Manchester City, they demonstrated many qualities of old. More importantly, they dispatched Arsenal with ease and they ensured that the fight for that final Champions League spot will be an entertaining and thoroughly undignified scramble.
All over the pitch were signs of new life. With the last kick of the game, Mo Salah was urging Alisson to kick long so he could chase down the Arsenal defence once last time. The game was long since gone but he was itching to finish it with style. It’s been a while since Salah has looked this engaged.
There was substitute Diogo Jota, popping up to prove his worth yet again, with two goals born of a natural finisher’s intuition.
And at right-back, there was Trent Alexander Arnold, dropped by England to the incomprehension of Jurgen Klopp, and responding immediately to the charge that his country no longer needs him. He was superb.
Should Real Madrid be fearful for this week’s Champions League clash? Probably not, given the rawness of the back four.
But in the race for the top four, Chelsea should be glancing over their shoulder.
And West Ham, Tottenham and Everton will know that this side aren’t going to fade away in the last eight games.
Feeling opportunity knock, Reds called the tune from the first whistle
David Hytner, The Guardian
Liverpool could feel the knock of opportunity. Chelsea’s shock home defeat to West Brom earlier in the day had blown the doors off their security in fourth place and how Liverpool made capital.
Jurgen Klopp’s team have enjoyed themselves in London this season and the trend continued with a fifth win in six visits to go with the draw at Fulham. Rather abruptly, they are within touching distance of a Champions League finish via the Premier League.
This was not just a victory; it was a controlled detonation of Arsenal, who were unable to show any attacking spark. It was all Mikel Arteta’s team could do to cross halfway and it was difficult to remember them creating a chance.
Liverpool called the tune from the first whistle and the only question came to concern whether they could show the needed cutting edge.
They gave their answer shortly after Klopp had made a bold substitution just after the hour – sending on the attacker Diogo Jota for the left-back Andy Robertson.
Three minutes later, Jota had thumped home a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross and it was the prompt for Arsenal to lose the only thing that they had brought to the occasion – their defensive resilience.
Alexander-Arnold has endured a difficult period with his exclusion from Gareth Southgate’s England squad but he was excellent here, with Klopp noting that he had benefited “100%” from not playing during the international break.
The right-back had a smaller part in his team’s other goals. For the second he played a pass inside to Fabinho, whose ball over the top saw Mohamed Salah get away from a weak Gabriel challenge, and for the third he seized upon a loose clearance from Gabriel.
From there, Salah crossed, Sadio Mane spun and provided a little touch and Jota rammed home.
The hard truth for Arsenal, as Arteta suffered one of his worst matches in charge, was that the scoreline should have been heavier.
Alexander-Arnold played like a man with a point to prove and Arsenal had no answer
Sam Dean, Daily Telegraph
Intense, imaginative and in total control throughout, Liverpool looked like Liverpool again. This was the side that Jurgen Klopp built and these were the individual performances we had come to expect before the sudden collapse of their form.
Are they back? It is probably too early to say, and this win against a weakened Arsenal will not answer some of the lingering questions about their defence. But their stroll in north London made for a third consecutive victory in all competitions, and the utterly dominant nature of their showing will feel worryingly familiar to their rivals. The win took them up to fifth, only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
This is the Fabinho that Liverpool remember, running the midfield with snarling aggression. This is the Diogo Jota that Liverpool signed, coming off the bench to score twice in the second half. And most eye-catchingly of all, this is the Trent Alexander-Arnold who established himself as the country’s most impressive right-back over the past few seasons.
Klopp said this week that he could not understand why Alexander-Arnold was left out of the latest England squad. He might feel quietly pleased with Gareth Southgate’s decision, though, if it motivates Alexander-Arnold to keep playing like he did here. The 22-year-old was irrepressible on the right flank, bullying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and charging forward with a constant sense of adventure.
Not good enough for England? Really? Alexander-Arnold played like a man with a point to prove. It was a statement performance, a reminder of his quality. With Arsenal defending deep and resolutely for an hour, it was Alexander-Arnold who played the delivery that opened them up.
“Outstanding,” said Klopp. “When you play like Trent played tonight, fully in the game, then you can do these things. He is a world class player, and not only offensively. Does he always perform world class? No. I don’t know a player who does. But it is his potential.”
Arsenal had no answer to Alexander-Arnold’s energy on the right wing, and they had no response to Mohamed Salah and Jota’s superb finishing after the break. Mikel Arteta’s side were missing a series of key players, yes, but this team is certainly capable of playing far better than this. Arsenal were cowed, unable to get out of their own half or play their own game.
Jota shows Liverpool what they were missing with the best display since 7-0 at Palace
Miguel Delaney, Independent
Diogo Jota shows Liverpool what – and how – they were missing. Initially rested after an international break that burst with goals, the Portuguese showed he didn’t need the time off. Jota came off the bench to win this game, scoring the opener and the finisher in a superb 3-0 win over Arsenal.
It was by far Liverpool’s best display since the 7-0 win over Crystal Palace, as they suddenly looked to be full of confidence again.
That was down to more than Jota, as Fabinho also returned to midfield, but it was as if the Portuguese’s directness was precisely what was lacking; the push to set them back on their way. It was no coincidence that stars like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah offered their best contribution for some time, too, the wing-back with a divine cross to set up Jota and Salah with a supreme goal of his own.
A desperately poor Arsenal display meanwhile only emphasised what they were missing. Namely, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, David Luiz, Granit Xhaka (yes, really) and – eventually, and most worryingly – Kieran Tierney, who went off injured with an ankle problem.
Arsenal just couldn’t keep up with Jurgen Klopp’s team, as the German was left beaming again.