Philippe Coutinho brace and Sadio Mane debut goal helps Merseysiders stun Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
Liverpool got their 2016/17 Premier League campaign off to a wonderful start by edging a pulsating encounter at Emirates Stadium winning 4-3 at Arsenal.
Despite falling behind to Theo Walcott’s strike, Jurgen Klopp’s side raced into a 4-1 lead thanks to a Philippe Coutinho brace and goals by Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane. With the Merseysiders threatening a rout, the Gunners responded with two efforts of their own from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers, but the visitors held on for a memorable victory in north London.
Arsenal began the first half well, dominating possession and playing on the front foot, and should have taken the lead on 28 minute, when they were awarded a penalty for a foul by Alberto Moreno on Walcott, whose feet were too quick for the Spaniard’s lunge.
Walcott elected to take the spot-kick himself but was denied by Simon Mignolet, who guessed right to parry the ball away.
However, Walcott did not have long to wait before making amends, latching on to Alex Iwobi’s pass to drive low across Mignolet and into the far left-hand corner.
Arsenal’s makeshift central defensive pairing of Chambers and summer signing Rob Holding had been largely untroubled until Coutinho’s moment of magic, but there was nothing any of the Arsenal defenders could do when, from 30 yards out, the Brazilian planted a curling free-kick into the top left-hand corner of Petr Cech’s net.
Liverpool began the second half as they meant to go on, Lallana giving his side the lead after chesting down Georginho Wijnaldum’s cross and slotting past the advancing Cech four minutes after the restart.
Just six minutes later it was 3-1 as a delightful team move found Nathaniel Clyne haring down the left and picking out Coutinho to score again with a fierce, first-time finish.
Arsenal appeared to be unravelling as Aaron Ramsey went off with a hamstring problem and moments later Sadio Mane scored a wonderful individual goal, powering down the right flank, cutting inside three players and firing emphatically into the top corner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave the home fans faint hope with a mazy individual goal which left four opponents in his wake and Mignolet fooled by his low shot on 64 minutes, and within 11 minutes that hope became more real as Chambers rose to glance in Santi Cazorla’s free-kick.
Now the Gunners’ tails were up but, try as they might, they could not match Liverpool’s four goals.