Liverpool outclassed Arsenal from start to finish in a 3-0 win in the Premier League on Saturday with a brace for substitute Diogo Jota and a nutmeg from Mohamed Salah to revive the team’s hopes for a top four spot.
Jota broke the deadlock in the 64th minute after meeting a trademark cross from right back Trent Alexander-Arnold to head past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Four minutes later, Salah cleverly played the ball through Leno's legs as he squatted down to try to block the shot.
Jota got his second and the team’s third in the 82nd with a fine close-range finish. The Portuguese was only on the field for three minutes before scoring his first.
"It doesn’t matter if you start or come off the bench. You need to be ready to make an impact," Jota said.
It was a morale-boosting win for Liverpool and a third successive clean sheet in all competitions, lifting last season’s champion up to fifth place with 49 points. That’s just two points behind Chelsea, which is letting its grip on fourth place slip after the London team lost 5-2 to West Bromwich Albion in the early kickoff.
Jota said Liverpool is aiming to win its remaining matches to achieve a place in the Champions League.
“I think if we do our job I think we have our chances to be there,” he said. "Today we did our job."
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp stressed it's not entirely in his players' hands, saying other teams currently in the top four also need to drop points.
“We have to win our games,” Klopp said. “But other teams need to lose. We have to fight and we will fight.”
Arsenal seems destined for midtable mediocrity as the team remained in ninth place with 42 points.
Liverpool was unlucky to go into halftime with the score still at 0-0 after the visitors produced an attacking spectacle that left Arsenal struggling and chasing the game.
“We didn’t use our chances in the first half,” Klopp said before praising his team for a stellar performance including defending throughout the match.
“For us, it was a very important statement. If we defend like this, we are difficult to break down.”
The Reds came forward in waves as Arsenal sat back, with Liverpool frequently creating clear-cut chances.
The biggest opportunity came deep in the first half. A cross from Alexander-Arnold found stand-in captain James Milner completely unmarked just inside the area. But Milner’s shot flashed just wide of the post in the 35th minute.
Roberto Firmino also struck two long-range shots in the first half that went very close.
Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney came off just before halftime with what appeared to be a knee problem after a challenge with Milner. The Scot was able to walk off unaided.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta yelled out in Spanish “paciencia, paciencia,” meaning “patience, patience,” early on in the second half. But there really wasn’t any chance for his players to show composure or remain calm as the Gunners were pinned back by a pressing Liverpool side.
Arteta said he was shocked by his team's performance, saying it was unacceptable.
“Liverpool completely deserved to win the game, probably by a bigger margin,” Arteta said. “They were better in every department.”
“This one hurts deeply. We need to apologize to our fans. These standards are nowhere near where we want to be.”
But he took the blame, trying to shift it away from his players.
“It’s my fault,” Arteta said. “I have to set up the team to play in a different way.”