Credit must be given to Liverpool for producing a perfect home performance against one of the top sides in English football, but Arsenal’s display in the 4-0 defeat will go down as arguably their worst of the Premier League era – outfought, out-thought and outplayed at Anfield.
While the sheer vastness of the scoreline very much hinged on the incredibly velocity in which Liverpool can hit teams on the break through Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, it was the Reds’ dominance in another area of the pitch which facilitated that and truly decided the result – central midfield.
The engine room is often the most vital department and while Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka were positionally aimless, the former tellingly subbed off for Francis Coquelin at half time, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum produced an ideal display, time and again working in perfect tandem to snuff out Arsenal’s build-up play before unleashing Mane and Salah on the counter-attack.
That dominance was epitomised individually by Emre Can; by no means more crucial than Henderson or Wijnaldum but certainly worth a noteworthy mention with an impressive mix of defensive and offensive contributions – namely two created chances, three dribbles, two tackles, two interceptions and three successful aerial duels. He was tidy in possession too, finishing up with an 88% pass success rate.
The 15-cap German international didn’t convince everybody during his first few seasons at Anfield, not least because his best position remained a point of constant debate. But Can has really come into his own this season and if the progression to his game continues, he’ll be a huge player for the Reds throughout 2017/18.