Liverpool vs. Arsenal: Final score 5-1, over before it started

Michael Regan

Like many other games with a score that looks like this one, the scoreboard does not tell the whole story. Arsenal were thrashed by a much more thorough margin than this.

Saturday's clash between Liverpool and Arsenal was billed as the biggest game of the weekend and a huge contest for both teams, but it turned out to be a thoroughly noncompetitive affair. The Gunners conceded inside the opening minute and never came close to recovering, conceding four times in the opening 20 minutes of a 5-1 rout.

Per Mertesacker gave away the free kick that led to the opening goal, committing what, at the time, looked like a reasonable tactical foul on Luis Suarez. Steven Gerrard made the most of the ensuing free kick, curling a perfect ball for Martin Skrtel to poke into the back of the net, putting his team up after just 45 seconds.

Arsenal were thoroughly rattled after that and could barely string three passes together, while Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere were unable to slow Liverpool's counter attacks. Skrtel completed a brace with a header in the 10th minute, scoring off a corner, and from there the rout was on.

Daniel Sturridge should have made it 3-0 in the 12th minute when he missed a one-on-one chance, but Liverpool only had to wait a minute for their next big chance when Suarez just narrowly missed a goal of the year candidate, striking the post from 35 yards. Kolo Toure had a chance to score on the rebound, but shanked a first-time shot when he had plenty of time and space to control.

The hosts finally added their well-deserved third in the 17th minute, with Raheem Sterling taking the credit. Liverpool started the attack off a bad giveaway by Mesut Özil and finished it through Suarez, who squared the ball for Sterling to tap into an empty net. Sturridge rounded out the first half scoring three minutes later, finishing off a through ball from Philippe Coutinho.

Arsenal got things under control after that, but they still did nothing to challenge Simon Mignolet. Arsenal fans were hoping for an improved performance after the halftime break, but any hopes that they might mount a mini-comeback to make the score look respectable were dashed quickly. Sterling added his second in the 52nd minute after running onto a long ball from Toure, then finishing his second effort after Wojciech Szczesny blocked his first.

The Gunners stole a consolation goal, with Mikel Arteta converting from the penalty spot in the 69th minute, but that only served to wake up Liverpool. The hosts, who had been complacent between Sterling's second and Steven Gerrard's foul in the box, picked up the pace after that and kept Arsenal under pressure until the end.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan, Gerrard (Ibe 76'), Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Suarez (Aspas 86'), Sturridge (Allen 66')

Goals: Skrtel (1', 10'), Sterling (16', 52'), Sturridge (20')

Arsenal: Szczesny, Monreal (Gibbs 61'), Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil (Rosicky 61'), Cazorla, Giroud (Podolski 60')

Goals: Arteta (pen 69')

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