Liverpool have moved closer towards Champions League qualification after defeating Arsenal 3-1 on Saturday. Mane and Firmino were decisive in offering their team a needed edge over the London side.
Liverpool were in desperate need of a positive result after their 3-1 defeat to Leicester City on Monday. Liverpool’s objective to qualify for the Champions League was largely dependent on their performance against rivals Arsenal. With a tough record against higher ranked teams, Jurgen Klopp’s men did not disappoint.
Arsenal were also under heavy pressure. Recent weeks have been especially difficult for manager Arsene Wenger. Rumours are growing that the London side may be looking towards replacement for the French manager. With a victory Arsenal would have four points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand. Even through difficult times, Champions League football has remained something Arsenal has been consistent with.
Firmino got Liverpool off the mark in the 9th minute after making the best of a low cross in the box from Mane. Before half-time Mane netted one himself, this time Firimino contributing the assist. The Senegal international put in a great performance and was vital in his team’s victory.
In the second half both teams remained dangerous in front of goal. Coutinho and Giroud were responsible for their team’s biggest chances. Wellbeck pulled one back for Arsenal after an inspired through ball from Sanchez.
Wenger risked more offensively in the game’s closer. Theo Walcott and Lucas Perez came off the bench as Arsenal tried to save a draw. However it was Wijnaldum who brought a third goal for Liverpool instead. A long-range effort secured victory beyond any doubt.
Klopp’s team did good to take advantage of a good first half in which Arsenal did not create any important chances. Tonight’s victory sees Liverpool move to third place, ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal. Wenger’s side is two points behind, but has a game in hand.
Next up for Arsenal is the home game against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League. Bayern secured a clear 5-1 victory in the first leg. While few would bet on Arsenal to turn the game around and qualify, Wenger’s players will be hoping to depart the competition leaving a positive impression.