When Jurgen Klopp speaks of his mentality monsters, the image is immediately conjured of the way his Liverpool team chase and harry, the energy they expel, the enormous effort dragging them through match after match, challenge after challenge.
Yet it is even more than that, really. Liverpool’s mentality involves bravery and accountability, too, so that if a player makes a mistake his instinct is to atone, not to make excuses or shift the blame.
That is what Andrew Robertson did on Monday night. He was at fault for the first goal of the game, which put Arsenal ahead entirely against the run of play; but he responded by scoring the second, which gave a deserved 34th minute lead to Liverpool which they did not relinquish. There were just nine minutes between the two events, and a complete turnaround in fortune: that’s mentality.
Diogo Jota scores his first goal for the club with a finish that snuck into the bottom-corner
Substitute Jota made sure of all three points with an accurate volley on his home debut
Andy Robertson nipped in to score Liverpool’s second goal with a neat finish over Bernd Leno
Liverpool players celebrate after turning the game around just 10 minutes after going behind
Sadio Mane equalised for the champions, left with a simple tap-in from close range
The Liverpool forward celebrates his third goal of the season on Monday evening at Anfield
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette had put the visitors in front with a scuffed volley
LIVERPOOL 3-1 ARSENAL – MATCH FACTS
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Keita (Milner 79) Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino (Minamino 90) Mane (Jota 79)
Subs not used: Adrian, Jones, Origi, Neco Williams
Goals: Mane 28, Robertson 34, Jota 88
Bookings: Mane, Alexander-Arnold
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka (Ceballos 60), Maitland-Niles, Willian (Pepe 68), Lacazette (Nketiah 74), Aubameyang
Subs not used: Gabriel, Saka, Runarsson, Kolasinac
Goals: Lacazette 25
Bookings: Bellerin, Ceballos
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Referee: Craig Pawson
It’s also two goals and five assists, in eight Premier League matches for Robertson.
Just as well he is called upon to defend as well, or who knows how dangerous he would be.
Graeme Souness says Liverpool could walk this title defence and, so far, there has been little to suggest he is wrong.
Liverpool went behind against the odds, but bounced back immediately to secure a third straight season win, that even included a first goal for their latest signing, striker Diogo Jota.
In happier times, it would have gone in at a packed Kop end, too. Thoughts like that are the only shadows around this exceptional team.
They set a blistering pace last season and are challenging rivals to live with them again this time.
And while, yes, it could have been different had Alexandre Lacazette not spurned two second-half opportunities against goalkeeper Alisson, Arsenal are a club with ambitions of their own. They were never going to be entirely docile at Anfield.
But the best team won and Lacazette’s poor finishing – Alisson stopped one with his chest, and simply patted down the attempted Messi-like chip that preceded it – was just another example of the distance between these supposed rivals.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unusually quiet, Liverpool have better finishers in their back four than many teams have in their forward lines and on nights like this it shows.
Quality finishes from Robertson, assists from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s defence starts at their most forward point, and their attack begins in defence.
This has been a tough start to the season – wild card Leeds, Chelsea away and now an improving Arsenal – and their 100 per cent record is a marker put down.
With the two Manchester clubs dropping points, Chelsea and Tottenham lacking consistency, catch us if you can would appear to be the message from Anfield.
Only Everton and Leicester have been able to stand the pace even at this early juncture.
As for Arsenal, they are improving under Mikel Arteta, but are still peering up at Liverpool on the summit. They arrived with something recognisable as resolve, which has not always been apparent in recent visits, but Liverpool always seemed to have a little in reserve.
Lacazette’s volley bounced over Liverpool keeper Alisson, who had dived early in anticipation
Robertson atoned for his error in the perfect way possible, by scoring the Reds’ second goal
A correction of this nature does not get made in a matter of months. Arsenal have now played 28 away fixtures against fellow members of the Premier League’s big six, since they last tasted victory. January 18, 2015 – a 2-0 win at Manchester City that is now so distant only Hector Bellerin remains at the club in a playing capacity from the 14 players featuring that day.
It is an abysmal record really – just ten points gleaned from a possible 84 against clubs Arsenal consider equals or rivals.
Ultimately, they led for just 147 seconds – and scored from their first touch inside Liverpool’s penalty area after a lengthy 25 minutes.
Around that, Arsenal just tried to tough it out, even if Bernd Leno’s determination to pass to players standing deeper than the edge of his own six yard box borders on self-harm at times.
David Luiz is a tidy footballer, but even he shouldn’t be receiving it there and too often Arsenal were working overtime just to reach the edge of their penalty area, given Liverpool’s penchant for the highest press.
One caveat. Did Liverpool, and specifically Sadio Mane, get lucky after just three minutes when the Liverpool man fended off Kieran Tierney with an arm, striking his face? Possibly.
It did not look like an elbow, but Mane knew what he was doing, and it most certainly was not his shoulder that did the harm, despite what he indicated to referee Craig Pawson.
Lacazette took advantage of Robertson’s miscued clearance to score the opener
Players from both teams surround the referee after Mane’s early booking for a flailing arm
Gunners left back Kieran Tierney takes on Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold at Anfield
Had the official taken a second look, or had he been invited to through VAR, he might have considered an upgrade. As it was, he decided a yellow card was sufficient.
So Mane lived to fight another day and it cost Arsenal dear. In the 15th minute he came close to opening the scoring when he struck a low cross from Alexander-Arnold straight at Leno.
Liverpool went near again after 21 minutes – a Robertson corner, cleared and then returned by Alexander-Arnold, his shot deflected onto the bar by Bellerin.
A goal was coming, though, just not at the end anyone expected. Arsenal were yet to venture into Liverpool’s penalty area when a comedy of errors somehow gave them the lead. Nobody covered themselves in glory here, not even the goalscorer. Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross was, frankly, poor because it went straight to a Liverpool player.
Robertson’s attempted clearance was uncharacteristically sloppy, because it went directly behind him, a miskick of mystifying incompetence. Lacazette, meanwhile, would have been offside to any reasonable Arsenal pass, but wasn’t as the ball came off a Liverpool boot.
With only goalkeeper Alisson to beat, he miscued completely and dealt the ball a harmless glancing blow into the turf. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because Alisson was already committed to his dive so the ball simply bounced up and looped over his frame into the net. Not one for anybody’s highlights reel, that.
Jurgen Klopp celebrates after Robertson’s goal turned the game around in the first-half
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks on during the first-half of the Premier League encounter
No doubt it stung the champions, hence the swift revival. From the next attack, less than two minutes later, they were level. Mentality again.
Credit to referee Pawson first, because his assistant was flagging furiously for a foul by Granit Xhaka on Naby Keita, which he ignored in favour of a smart advantage. How fortuitous that proved.
The loose ball was picked up by Mohamed Salah who cut inside from the right and unleashed a shot which Leno parried to the feet of Mane, for a simple conversion. Just seven minutes later, Liverpool were ahead, amends impressively made by Robertson.
The attack came down the same flank as the first, Salah feeding the ball back to Alexander-Arnold whose crosses caused Arsenal considerable trouble. Two men went for this one, neither got it, but the ball did clip Rob Holding’s head.
Mane’s simple equaliser after Mohamed Salah’s clever, direct play down the right-hand side
Jota’s team-mates celebrate the Portuguese’s first goal for the club which secured the win
In swept Robertson who took a touch to pass Leno before prodding the ball into the net. And that’s how you say sorry. Sometimes it really isn’t the hardest word.
And that was how it remained until two minutes from time. Jota had enjoyed an eventful debut, one into the side-netting, a misunderstanding with Salah that let Arsenal off, but his goal here at least gave Liverpool a deserved margin of victory.
Salah to Alexander-Arnold again, a cross, and Luiz’s clearing header did not make the distance. Jota struck a low bobbling shot that slotted in at the corner. Leno was miles away. As were Liverpool, by then.