Firmino earns a perfect 10, Salah 8/10 as Liverpool run past Arsenal
LIVERPOOL, England -- Liverpool moved nine points clear at the top of the Premier League as Roberto Firmino scored a hat trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool's response to Ainsley Maitland-Niles opener was emphatic. Firmino scored twice in the space of 90 seconds before Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah added two more. Firmino then secured possession of the matchball in the second half, scoring from the penalty spot to complete the rout.
Liverpool's title charge keeps going from strength to strength, with Jurgen Klopp's side showing no signs of feeling the pressure whatsoever. Liverpool are capitalising on every opportunity that comes their way, with Tottenham falling to defeat against Wolves on the same day and Manchester City not in action until Sunday. Meanwhile, Firmino delivered a stellar performance in a game that saw him become the highest-scoring Brazilian in Premier League history, moving ahead of Philippe Coutinho. Georginio Wijnaldum was excellent also.
Maitland-Niles finish was the first time Liverpool have gone behind at Anfield in the league since Dec. 30, 2017.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- The schedule makers have been much more generous to Klopp this festive period, meaning rotation hasn't really been that necessary. Therefore, only one change was made to the side that breezed past Newcastle United on Boxing Day. Despite going a goal down, Liverpool blitzed Arsenal aside and appear to be getting stronger as the season goes on.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 7
Not tested much with the gloves, but can take credit for helping produce Liverpool's fourth goal. The goalkeeper gathered possession and then quickly played an exquisite ball to Firmino that put Liverpool on the attack.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7
Busy up and down the right flank. Alexander-Arnold has seamlessly slotted back into the team after injury.
DF Dejan Lovren, 6
Carelessly surrendered possession which led to Arsenal's opening goal, but was fine other than that moment.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 7
One of the easier games for Van Dijk to get through. Typically imperious and classy throughout.
DF Andrew Robertson, 6
Booked midway through the first half following a tangle with the lively Maitland-Niles and taken off late on to avoid a sending off. Played a wonderful cross-field pass for Mane's goal.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 9
Sublime in another match against one of the big six. His physicality and energy comes through in these type of games -- as well as his calmness in possession.
MF Fabinho, 7
Needlessly gave the ball away that put Liverpool under pressure a few times. However, his performance here compared to the one at Arsenal in November, where he could have been sent off, was night and day.
FW Xherdan Shaqiri, 7
Linked up well as part of the front four. His tracking back and pressing earned plaudits from his manager on the touchline.
FW Mohamed Salah, 8
Won a penalty and scored the penalty to keep his claim to retain the Premier League Golden Boot nicely ticking over. Salah was part of some excellent build-up play, too.
FW Roberto Firmino, 10
Anybody could have scored his first goal, but his second was a moment of pure brilliance. The No. 9 weaved through Arsenal's backline, leaving three players on their backsides, before calmly finishing. With his third on the night, he moves past Philippe Coutinho for most Premier League goals (43) by a Brazilian.
FW Sadio Mane, 8
Deserved his goal in an impressive 61-minute showing before being taken off for a breather. Arsenal's centre-half Stephan Lichtsteiner couldn't live with him.
MF Jordan Henderson (61), 7
Ventured forward much more than usual and did well.
MF Adam Lallana (77), N/R
A decent brief outing.
DF Nathaniel Clyne (83), N/R
Came on and played left-back again, suggesting that Klopp could consider him as reserve to Robertson.