MIKEL ARTETA and Jurgen Klopp went to war as Arsenal were left bruised and battered by another Anfield storm.
The rival managers had to be pulled apart after a furious touchline bust-up which led to both men being cautioned by referee Michael Oliver.
Sadio Mane broke the deadlock against Liverpool just before half-time with a downward header[/caption]
Diogo Jota put the Reds 2-0 up in the 52nd minute after rounding Aaron Ramsdale[/caption]
But it was Klopp who had the last laugh as his Liverpool team racked up their sixth straight home win against the team who are rapidly becoming their favourite opponents.
Goals from Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Mo Salah and Takumi Minamino were more than enough to end Arsenal’s ten match unbeaten run and move the Reds back up to second place in the table.
And it could have been much, much worse but for the brilliance of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale in keeping the scoreline semi-respectable.
Now Arteta must make sure that this Merseyside reality check does not completely derail his young team.
Both Arteta and predecessor and Unai Emery have seen how one defeat quickly leads to a run of three or more at the end of a mini revival.
So it is imperative that Arsenal’s kids are able to consign this chastening defeat to history as quickly as possible.
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The Gunners have now conceded a staggering 32 goals in their last nine Premier League visits to Anfield and never at any stage of this match looked like reversing that trend.
They barely troubled Liverpool keeper Alisson all evening and now know that Arteta’s pre-match talk of challenging for the top four this season was extremely fanciful.
Chelsea’s lunchtime victory at Leicester meant that Liverpool kicked off seven points behind the Premier League leaders.
And their cause was hardly helped by the absence of the injured Andy Robertson and Roberto Firmino while Jordan Henderson was only fit enough to start on the bench.
Having suffered so much heartache in their previous visits to the red half of Merseyside, Arsenal were absolutely determined not to give Liverpool any early encouragement.
It meant that the first real attempt on goal did not arrive until the 29th minute, when Thiago Alcantara’s volley was saved by Aaron Ramsdale and Mane’s follow-up was well blocked by the Arsenal keeper.
Ramsdale had enjoyed a shot-free England debut in San Marino on Monday but knew that this one was never going to be as easy.
He was soon back in action to pull off a tremendous close-range save from Salah after Kostas Tsimikas had been allowed to roll the ball into the danger zone by Ben White’s mistake.
Tempers flared between Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp on the touchline during the first half[/caption]
Senegal international Mane could have been sent off on another day[/caption]
Gunners goalkeeper Ramsdale yet again starred for the North Londoners as he made a string of excellent saves[/caption]
And when Ramsdale then applied a finger tip to divert Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rising shot over his bar, Klopp must have been starting to fear the worst.
It was only the other week that Ramsdale had proved an impenetrable barrier to help his team to a crucial 2-0 win at Leicester.
But his resistance was finally broken in the 39th minute – and he probably felt he should have done better.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 39th minute trip on Joel Matip allowed Alexander-Arnold to deliver a deep free-kick which picked out Mane for a powerful downward header into the far corner.
It was the Senegalese international’s eighth Premier League goal against the Gunners but having got a hand to the ball Ramsdale will be disappointed that it ended up in his net.
Mane had already sparked the row between Klopp and Arteta with his 32nd minute foul on Takehiro Tomiyasu and could have no argument when he was booked for another poor challenge on White just before half-time.
But with Arsenal on the back foot and unable to lay a glove on their opponents, it was always just a matter of time before Liverpool were able to confirm their superiority.
Their killer second goal arrived in the 52nd courtesy of a shockingly careless pass across his own area by Nuno Tavares.
Portugal international Jota wheeled away in delight after scoring his first goal since the 5-0 win against Manchester United[/caption]
Mohamed Salah got his name on the score sheet in the 73rd minute after tapping home from close range[/caption]
Takumi Minamino scored his first goal at Anfield as fired in his first in the top-flight this term[/caption]
The young Portuguese left-back was a surprise starter ahead of Kieran Tierney but failed to justify his manager’s faith when he played the ball straight to Diogo Jota without even looking.
There was still plenty of work for Jota to do but he made it look ridiculously easy as slalomed around White than Ramsdale to roll the ball into the empty net.
Arsenal might have been finished but Liverpool were not and kept turning the screw until Arteta’s pips were squeaking.
Salah had failed to score in his previous three games, which is as close as it gets to a crisis for the Egyptian goal machine.
But he put that right in the 74th minute when he was left with a simple tap-in for his 16th goal of the season from Mane’s selfless pass.
And three minutes later Minamino applied the coup de grace with his first touch after replacing Jota to put Arsenal well and truly in their place.
Arsenal have lost their first match since being thrashed by Manchester City in August[/caption]
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