Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino played according to their reputation as European champions – Liverpool extended their perfect start to the Premier League title race with a 2-1 win at Southampton. In the other clash, star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp’s side matched a club record of 11 successive Premier League wins to build on last week’s 4-1 thrashing of Norwich in their season opener.
The Reds’ confident start to the season puts pressure on champions Manchester City to respond with a second win of their own when they host Tottenham later on Saturday. Liverpool took the lead in first-half stoppage-time when Senegal winger Mane, who scored twice against Chelsea in the European Super Cup victory in midweek, returned to haunt his former club with an agile turn and curling strike into the far corner.
Firmino made it two with his 49th league goal for Liverpool, Brazil forward taking Mane’s pass, dribbling and then firing home in the 71st minute.
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian started despite suffering an ankle injury when a fan slid into him during the celebrations against Chelsea in Istanbul.
But Adrian, deputising for the injured Alisson Becker, was guilty of a mistake in the 83rd minute when he hit a panicked clearance against Danny Ings, the ball bouncing off Southampton’s former Liverpool striker into the empty net.
At the Emirates Stadium, Gabon forward Aubameyang was Arsenal’s match-winner again. Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend’s victory at Newcastle and he emulated that crucial contribution with another decisive strike.
Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal of the season had given Arsenal the lead before Ashley Barnes equalised for Burnley just before half-time.
Failing to finish in the top four and losing the Europa League final against Chelsea robbed Arsenal of a Champions League place and led to a summer of recriminations as fans vented their frustrations.
With two successive wins to start the season for the first time in 10 years, the early signs are promising for Unai Emery’s team ahead of sterner tests against Liverpool and Tottenham in their next two games.
(With Agency Inputs)