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    Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool Match Report




    Liverpool kicked off their Premier League season in spectacular style on Sunday as two goals by Philippe Coutinho helped The Reds edge out Arsenal in a seven-goal thriller.

    The Brazilian provided a masterclass from midfield and scored the decisive goal on the stroke of half-time which ultimately steered the match in Liverpool's favour.

    The stunning strike heralded the start of a devastating 18-minute spell either side of half-time which saw the visitors take what, at the time, appeared to be an unassailable 4-1 lead.

    A spirited Arsenal fightback ensued almost immediately but Jurgen Klopp's team managed to keep their narrow lead intact to win their opening match for the fourth consecutive season.



    It had been a completely different story in the first-half, which was largely dominated by The Gunners even before Theo Walcott had given his side a deserved 31st minute lead.

    Aaron Ramsey could have scored inside seven minutes when his intelligent run was spotted by Alexis Sanchez but the Welsh midfielder's strike lacked the pace to trouble Simon Mignolet.

    Walcott, marking 10 years since his Gunners debut, had been denied by Mignolet's diving penalty save a minute earlier after he was hacked down by Alberto Moreno just inside the area.

    The England international made amends when he was played through by Alex Iwobi and he drilled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net past the outstretched legs of Moreno and debutant Ragnar Klavan.



    Moreno was enduring a particularly torrid first-half and was also at fault for the goal, having vacated the space which Walcott attacked before failing to close down the forward when his first touch had taken him slightly wide.

    Liverpool's only previous attempt on goal came on 13 minutes when Nathaniel Clyne's low strike from the corner of the penalty area was comfortably saved by Peter Cech.

    They did improve as the first-half reached reached its dying embers and provided their hosts with a few warning signs, not least when Georginio Wijnaldum was found by Coutinho but his low strike lacked the power to trouble Cech.

    After spending most of the first-half on the back foot, the visitors did manage to draw level a minute into injury time when Philippe Coutinho's spectacular 30-yard free-kick found the top left-hand corner.



    Although the contact that had lead to the set-piece, conceded by Arsenal debutant Rob Holding for shirt-pulling, had been minimal, it was punished in the most majestic fashion.

    Whereas Arsenal had previously dominated possession and also controlled the tempo, it was Liverpool who were now on the front-foot and they put the match out of their hosts' reach within 18 second-half minutes.

    After an excellent passing move that had cut open the Arsenal defence, it was Adam Lallana who found himself on the end of Wijnaldum's lofted pass and he duly slotted the ball past Cech from a tight angle.

    The visitors extended their lead when Nathaniel Clyne found space on the right flank and his pinpoint cross found an unmarked Coutinho, who nonchalantly stroked the ball past Cech from seven yards.



    The Czech international did manage to prevent Coutinho from adding to the scoreline minutes later when he saved at full-stretch to deny the 24-year-old from 12 yards but the respite only proved temporary.

    Whereas Liverpool's passing and movement off the ball was causing Arsenal a myriad of problems, it was a piece of individual brilliance which proved The Gunners' fatal undoing on 63 minutes.

    Sadio Mane's weaving run took him past Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal before he unleashed an unstoppable left-footed strike which arrowed into the top left-hand corner.

    Arsenal's makeshift defensive pairing of Holding and Chambers were finding it especially tough-going in the second-half having been selected in place of Laurent Koscielny, who was not match fit, and the injured Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista.



    The Gunners did begin to rally and within a minute of Mane's goal, the two-goal deficit was restored when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced his own mazy run and strike, which was deflected past Mignolet via Dejan Lovren.

    Arsenal began playing with a renewed vigour and it wasn't long before Chambers headed substitute Santi Cazorla's inswinging free-kick past Mignolet to set-up a nail-biting final 15 minutes.

    Although Arsene Wenger's side looked the most dangerous in the latter stages, it was Liverpool who came closest to scoring when Coutinho rifled the ball into the side netting from 15 yards.

    While Liverpool were second-best in the opening period and were put under enormous pressure for the final half-hour, it was ultimately the devastating 18-minute spell either side of half-time which had won the day.



    The Reds had seemed laborious before the break but once they finally clicked into gear, they displayed the kind of firepower that will cause nightmares for many defences over the course of the season.

    As Jurgen Klopp reflects on his only his side's second win at the Emirates in 14 attempts, he will be midful that his players will need to improve defensively if they have any chance of challenging for honours this season.

    Arsenal, meanwhile, will be encouraged by their first-half performance as well as with the level of character they displayed in the latter stages after the visitors looked they they could enforce an embarrassing scoreline.

    With Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud all rested, it will be vital that they return to match fitness as quickly as possible in order for Arsenal to stay in touch with the teams at the top of the table.

    The Gunners return to action on Saturday evening away to Champions Leicester City, while Liverpool visit last season's Championship winners Burnley earlier the same afternoon.
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    Item Reviewed: Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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