Mohamed Salah has once again been a leading light for Liverpool while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is similarly important to Arsenal’s cause this season.
The pair had scored 15 times apiece in all competitions before the Reds welcomed Unai Emery’s side to Anfield at teatime on Saturday.
Here Football Paradise assesses the performances of both individuals as Liverpool extended their lead atop the Premier League to nine points with a 5-1 win.
Both players lined up as the central point in their respective side’s attacks, a position that suits Aubameyang more readily than Salah. But while Aubameyang became increasingly isolated as Arsenal found themselves under siege, Salah overcame a quiet start and exquisitely put the ball into the path of Sadio Mane to tap into an empty net for Liverpool’s third. A useful outlet thereafter, Salah bamboozled Arsenal’s defence on a couple of occasions and his understanding with Mane and the excellent Roberto Firmino contributed to an impressive win.
Salah was a willing runner throughout, particularly down the right flank, and it was from that area that he burst forward and was awarded a penalty after going down from Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ clumsy challenge. Contrast that with Aubameyang, who had only seven touches in the first half, during which time he cut a frustrated figure leisurely jogging round Liverpool’s half. He was almost reduced to a watching brief in the second half before being ignominiously withdrawn after 71 minutes.
Salah almost opened the scoring with a clever backheel from Roberto Firmino’s mishit but he made no mistake with his spot-kick, sending Bernd Leno the wrong way on the stroke of half-time. The Egyptian should have done better when played through by Xherdan Shaqiri at the beginning of the second half but a poor first touch led to Leno gratefully collecting. Aubameyang was largely reduced to feeding on scraps and his blushes were spared by the offside flag when he skied over from a yard out with the goal gaping at the start of the second half.
The plaudits will rightly go to Firmino after a sensational hat-trick, which included a potential goal of the season candidate. Salah, who selflessly allowed the Brazilian to complete his treble from the penalty spot for Liverpool’s fifth, played an influential role with a goal and an assist. It was a dispiriting day for Aubameyang, who had scored three times in his last two matches but was largely starved of service and was a peripheral figure on Merseyside.