Jota more than a joker

If Diogo Jota’s first Anfield outing is any barometer, Liverpool can expect plenty of action from the Portuguese.

Eyebrows were raised in some quarters when the Reds splashed out an initial £41million to take the forward from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

And he didn’t waste any time seeking to justify that spend.

In a late cameo that lasted barely 13 minutes, Jota fired a shot wide, dragged a gilt-edged opportunity into the side-netting and then had a straightforward chance taken off his toes by an inadvertent touch from Mohamed Salah.

That, though, was all a rehearsal for the main event when, two minutes from the end of normal time, a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross was headed into his path by the Arsenal defence and Jota, loitering on the edge of the area, took one touch before scoring off the post.

The decision by Jurgen Klopp to replace the excellent Sadio Mane with Jota late on was testament not only to the faith in his team’s attacking threat, but also that the new boy could make a positive difference. And how.

The Portugal international will over time be far more than a joker for the Reds boss to further flummox the opposition. Liverpool’s investment is for the long term.

But in terms of instant impact, it couldn’t have gone much better for the new boy.

Thiago given warning

While the absence of Thiago Alcantara was a setback given his impressive 45 minutes at Chelsea last weekend, the blow was hardly insurmountable.

As Jurgen Klopp pointed out ahead of the game, it’s not as though Liverpool’s current midfielders haven’t achieved much in the last two years.

With Arsenal, as expected, sitting deep first half and inviting the Reds to break them down, this was precisely the type of game for which Thiago had been bought.

Not that the established midfield order – the injured Jordan Henderson apart – were found wanting as they offered a reminder of their attributes.

The trio could be happy with their work.

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Fabinho was a chief influence, particularly during the early stages when a succession of solid tackles and interceptions allowed Liverpool to dominate and build up concerted pressure.

The Brazilian had excelled as a stand-in centre-back against Chelsea but, reverting to his preferred defensive midfield role, he was even better here.

Alongside him, Gini Wijnaldum, as hard-working as ever, used the ball with effortless economy before cutting loose in the second half as gaps began to appear.

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And Naby Keita, making his third successive Premier League start, punched sufficient holes in the Arsenal rearguard with his willingness to take possession forward.

Thiago will now be aware. Nobody is guaranteed a place in Liverpool’s midfield - not even reigning Champions League winners.

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Reds make title statement

Ever since claiming the Premier League title, there has been a school of thought there is only one team who can stop Liverpool retaining their crown.

Liverpool.

With so many of their rivals having already this season had new or ongoing issues exposed – Manchester City’s in the most glaring manner possible against Leicester City on Sunday – the Reds have been afforded an opportunity to lay strong foundations.

That is, of course, provided they prevent the individual errors that have crept into their game since the resumption of action after lockdown.

It didn’t cost them here and, in any case, Andy Robertson took only only nine minutes to make up for his mistake for Arsenal’s opener by putting Liverpool ahead by coolly converting Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.

From one full-back to the other, it was the ultimate justification of the Reds’ tactical approach, and an example of the resolve this side still possesses.

Liverpool are now 61 home league games unbeaten – two short of the club record – while not since 2011 have the reigning champions won their first three Premier League games of the following season.

Chelsea last week, Arsenal this. Liverpool’s title rivals know this Red juggernaut is going to take some stopping once again.