Arrest Mohamed Salah and you arrest Liverpool? Not exactly. Bournemouth left Anfield after preventing the Egyptian from scoring or creating a goal. Their problem was that they also came away defeated by a record margin. Liverpool equaled the biggest Premier League victory ever, won twice by Manchester United and once by Leicester, and their own biggest league victory, the famous 9-0 over Crystal Palace and a 10-1 demolition of Rotherham Town in 1896.
If there was any oddity that Jurgen Klopp’s 21st century side scored nine goals without their main marksman finding the net, the interdicted Darwin Nunez had other reasons to regret his absence. Even though Salah missed, others capitalized on Bournemouth’s abject failures. They took the opportunity to go wild.
Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho showed their rich promise as the two teenagers scored their first Premier League goals, but it was a second straight game at Anfield defined by the centre-forward. After Nunez’s header against Palace, Roberto Firmino was a very different kind of title, and not just because he’s the false nine. Sometimes the contribution of an unselfish player is barely reflected in the stats, but when he came off to a standing ovation the Brazilian had played his part in five goals, with a hat-trick of assists before even getting his first league strikes at Anfield since 2020.
Firmino was ubiquitous and mischievous, displaying his full range of tricks. He had two assists after six minutes, although one was accidental, and three after half an hour. If Salah’s misses prevented Liverpool from getting double figures, Luis Diaz canceled the score. While Nunez was supposed to be Portugal’s signing who added an aerial threat, the Colombian showed his spring with emphatic headers from Firmino’s early cross and substitute Kostas Tsimikas’ late corner.
It prompted the Kop to score a 10th goal and it was the kind of occasion where the stats flowed: since 1958, Liverpool had not been five at half-time in a home league game. It replaced Palace’s 7-0 gutting of 2020 as their biggest Premier League victory. The most immediate relevance was to put their slow start into perspective. Notions of crisis were nonsense, but a team that was poor at Manchester United on Monday had a point to prove. They did, and insistently.
Those who were out of shape came back. Underachievers exemplified their ability. Trent Alexander-Arnold endured a traumatic night defensively at Old Trafford but showed his attacking excellence. He scored the goal pick, with an unstoppable shot from 25 yards. His passing was superb and it was his teasing cross that a slippery Chris Mepham diverted into his own net for Liverpool’s sixth goal. Virgil van Dijk, deemed at fault at the back, had little to do but ventured forward to take the lead into the corner from Andy Robertson for the fifth.
Firmino had struggled at Old Trafford but was terrific. He netted a brace, stretching to the volley when Salah’s pass looped Marcus Tavernier to score his first league goal in 21 games at Anfield. His second came on the second attempt, as he stabbed the ball when Mark Travers pushed Robertson’s cross.
If he ever looked at the man of yesterday, it wasn’t one, but it was about Liverpool’s past and future, Klopp’s definitive first player and the men who could be constants during much of the 2020s. Elliott’s contribution was reduced at half-time, but he was outstanding. He opened his top account in style when the ball bounced off Firmino and he fired a shot 25 yards out. It was a clear case that Klopp doesn’t need to buy another midfielder. Carvalho added to that argument, stealing when the lively Tsimikas, who had two assists in his cameo, met Alexander-Arnold’s diagonal ball with a drop pass.
It was a statement of intent, and it has been from the start. It contained a rare luxury: a 1-0 lead for a side who had conceded first in their last seven league games, despite having had just three minutes to enjoy it before he did. either two.
They went back to Klopp’s original plan: the early onslaught, the goal of winning a game long before it’s over. Still, they kept their momentum going, working out their frustrations from a winless start as they continued to score. Liverpool were endemic and dominant, Bournemouth unhappy and useless. Few Premier League sides will ever pull off such an accurate cannon fodder impression, but Liverpool have shot them down.