Liverpool vs. Arsenal Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterFebruary 8, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:   Martin Skrtel of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal

Liverpool demolished Arsenal in the opening 20 minutes with a devastating four-goal spell at Anfield on Saturday.

Martin Skrtel opened the scoring after just 52 seconds before adding another goal in the 10th minute.

Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 seven minutes later before Daniel Sturridge added a fourth in the 20th minute.

The Gunners were left shell-shocked and, despite an improved second-half display, Sterling was still able to grab a fifth goal for the rampant Reds in the 52nd minute.

Mikel Arteta notched one for the visitors with a penalty after Steven Gerrard brought down Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the damage to Arsene Wenger's team had long been done by then. 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged line-up for the third successive Premier League game, while Wenger restored the fit-again Jack Wilshere to his starting XI.

And Liverpool supporters did not have long to wait for a moment to cheer. Fifty-two seconds, to be precise.

Suarez was fouled on the left wing by Per Mertesacker. Gerrard's right-footed free-kick deceived the Gunners defence, and Skrtel stuck out a leg to put the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

A question mark could have been raised about the possibility of Skrtel being offside, but the goal was awarded to give Liverpool the lead.

Liverpool were moving at pace again in the ninth minute as Sturridge set Jon Flanagan chasing into the area, but Szczesny blocked well.

In the 10th minute, Liverpool and Skrtel were two up.

A Gerrard corner floated into the area, and the Reds defender got ahead of Laurent Koscielny to send a looping header over Oxlade-Chamberlain on the line.

Sturridge should have made it 3-0 two minutes later, but his shot dropped wide of the post.

The Liverpool attacks were relentless, and Suarez struck an unbelievable effort against the post in the 13th minute. The speed of the rebound was too much for Kolo Toure to control the ball, though.

In the 17th minute, Liverpool added a third.

Jordan Henderson robbed Mesut Ozil on the halfway line and moved forward at pace before laying the ball off to Suarez on the right side of the penalty area.

The striker placed the ball across the box beyond the Arsenal defence, and Sterling slotted home at the back post.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool scores the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

In a quite sensational opening, Liverpool went 4-0 to the good in the 20th minute.

A defence-splitting pass from Philippe Coutinho allowed Sturridge to run on to the ball, and the England international placed his effort beyond Szczesny.

Arsenal just had no response.

After a blistering start, the pace understandably dropped as the half progressed, but the Gunners were still aware of the threat as Liverpool continued to probe.

Wilshere linked with Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the Liverpool area, but any chance was closed down quickly by the Reds defence before Gerrard cleared.

Another great Gerrard ball from the edge of his own area saw Aly Cissokho set up Sterling for a run at goal, but the Arsenal defence was quick to react.

Henderson picked up a yellow card early in the second period for a foul on Wilshere, the first of the game. But Santi Cazorla's free-kick deflected off Suarez's head for a corner.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was also cautioned for dissent, but worse was to follow for the Gunners.

In the 52nd minute, Sterling collected a ball over the top to race through on goal. His first effort was blocked by Szczesny, but he calmly slotted home the rebound for Liverpool's fifth of the afternoon.

Simon Mignolet finally saw some action when his save denied Oxlade-Chamberlain's drive from distance, but this was going to be a comfortable afternoon for the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Wenger made a treble change on the hour mark with Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and Kieran Gibbs coming on for Giroud, Ozil and Nacho Monreal.

Suarez forced Szczesny into a brilliant save with a free-kick which appeared to be flying into the top corner of the net.

Rodgers made his first change in the 66th minute when Sturridge was given an ovation as he was replaced by Joe Allen.

Jon Super/Associated Press

A superb crossfield pass from Coutinho offered Henderson a chance, but the midfielder's shot drifted wide of goal.

Then in the 68th minute, there was finally something for Arsenal fans to cheer when Gerrard brought down Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the area. Arteta slotted home the spot-kick.

Arteta saw Mignolet get down well low to his left to palm away his free-kick in an improved second-half Arsenal display.

But the Liverpool threat at the other end had not gone away, and Szczesny saved well from a Coutinho drive.

Gerrard handed the captain's armband to Suarez as he left the field to applause in the 76th minute to be replaced by 18-year-old Jordon Ibe.

The armband was again on the move when Suarez left the field with five minutes remaining and was replaced by Iago Aspas.


Selected player ratings

Luis Suarez: A

The superlatives have come thick and fast this season for Suarez's goalscoring achievements, but his work-rate and creativity stood out against the Gunners.


Mesut Ozil: C

Arsenal fans will have every right to question where the Germany international was in the opening period, but he was not alone as the Gunners reeled under the relentless wave of Liverpool attacks.


Steven Gerrard: A

Gerrard is clearly relishing his deeper role in the Liverpool midfield. He provided inch-perfect set pieces for Skrtel's opening two goals and was the starting point for building Reds' attacks from the back.


Martin Skrtel: A+

A real man-of-the-match display for the Slovakia international. Two goals in the opening 10 minutes and an excellent defensive performance.


What's next

Both clubs are back in Premier League action in midweek.

Liverpool travel to Fulham on Wednesday, while Arsenal have another big game to look forward to with the visit of Manchester United on the same night.


Post-match reaction

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, via the club's official website:

Today, we were against a team that are very experienced and have led the league for a large part of the season.

We shifted it about tactically. We played Daniel Sturridge through the middle to try to exploit his speed centrally. Luis Suarez played in a wider role today and put in a selfless job.

We switched Raheem Sterling over to the left side to penetrate out to in and to control Sagna a little bit. Overall, the players were tactically brilliant and you saw their appetite and hunger for the game. That was important for us.

We were brilliant today, a wonderful performance in such a prestigious game between the two teams. We do a lot of work on our pressing. I always feel if we press well, we can pass well.

To play like that, not just the result, but the performance level was absolutely out of this world. I'm very pleased and it's another marker for us that we're getting better and improving all the time.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, via the club's official website:

What is important is that we respond to the result, especially that we respond with a different performance because our performance overall was poor today; on the concentration level and on the pace.

Our defensive stability was very poor, we looked always vulnerable defensively.

Congratulations to Liverpool, they were the better team today and we were very poor today.

Only our fans were good for 90 minutes, that's all.

We conceded two early goals on set-pieces and then we are always in a position where you have to come out but we knew that you need to be better focused in that kind of level. Overall our performance was just not good enough.

Maybe it's better if I don't talk too much, go home and respond well on Wednesday night because I include myself in that performance.

It raises the questions that we have to answer on Wednesday night.


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