Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal : Virgil at 100%
The top of the league Reds. We know how good this team is, or at least we think we do. We know we’re too strong for Norwich and too much for Southampton, but some games really act as a marker as to the extent of this side’s quality.
We know we are better than Arsenal and we should expect to beat them at Anfield, but the gap between the teams was mesmerising. Arsenal are a quality outfit with a top class manager and spent big in the summer to earn that. But they are no match for Liverpool. They are miles off.
Liverpool showed that despite Arsenal’s improvements they cannot compete with the best team in the world. The gap between a very good Premier League side and the Champions of Europe is as evident now as it was when Arsenal would get humiliated by the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Liverpool are the best, make no mistake. Manchester City and ourselves stand levels above not just any other team in England, but the world. This is the reminder that Liverpool so gladly gave to Emery’s boys and the rest of the league who now fear us even more.
Arsenal were not poor by any means, they played very well. Both the players and staff have received criticism by many but it is largely unfair. Emery has to come up with a plan to stop the unstoppable, beat the unbeatable. He sets out to contain us and hopes we’re not at our sparkling best, because as an opposing manager at Anfield, hoping we don’t turn up is usually key to success.
Give any manager in the world that set of players and tell them to get at a result while Liverpool play like that. I’ll tell you it’s impossible. Liverpool started the game with extreme intensity, harrowing Arsenal with extraordinary energy and intelligence, positioning themselves and working in tandem superbly in the press. Every time an Arsenal player looks up he sees pinstriped Red.
Arsenal work exceptionally hard just to stay in the game, they have to give everything to match the Reds, only for Liverpool to lift it in the second half. With Arsenal boxed in and Liverpool dominant, we still find another gear, an intensity and level of quality that Arsenal could never match. Players can only get so good and so fit. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the best and the fittest play for Liverpool.
Virgil van Dijk, the best and the fittest. Today we discovered he is the best central defender we have ever seen play the game. When Sky Sports are putting up graphics praising a £70 million forward for dribbling past him before losing the ball, you know we have reached a level of acceptance and inevitability that no one can get the better of him, which is borderline insanity.
Nicolas Pepe played very well. He showed today that he is very talented and should prove a nightmare to play against this season. He showed this in glimpses when he was not up against Virgil. Because as soon as he reached our Holland international, he panicked and was beaten before he tried.
Van Dijk’s assuredness and composure remains the same regardless of what quality opponent he faces, it is remarkable. We have yet to see any signs of complacency from him since he joined despite the fact only a handful of players in the world can reasonably threaten to beat him one-on-one.
What hit home was the praise for Pepe in particular, by both fans and pundits, as if encounters with Virgil van Dijk just don’t count anymore. In fact, Pepe’s bravery to operate on that side of the pitch against both Robertson and van Dijk is commendable in itself as most managers and/or strikers just don’t bother. Arsenal’s new star had the better of Robertson in some situations, but van Dijk shut him down completely. Virge used his pace, power and intelligence to better Pepe with ease in a manner that crushed his confidence and belief.
Burnley next for the 100 percenters. Another difficult game but another challenge that this team will relish. 4 from 4 in the league with the UEFA Supercup would be a phenomenal start to this season and much needed to stifle any negative feelings on the back of our inactive transfer window. Klopp thinks the squad he has is enough and a win at Burnley will validate him for the time being and reaffirm the supporters’ trust in him.
3 down 35 to go.