LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka scored twice, including a late winning penalty, as the hosts beat Liverpool 3-2 in a pulsating Premier League clash to send the Gunners back to the top of the table at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsenal opened the scoring after 58 seconds, Gabriel Martinelli sweeping home a perfect pass from captain Martin Odegaard, but Liverpool grew into the game and Darwin Nunez levelled in the 34th minute.
There was a lengthy break midway through the first half as Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold received treatment for an ankle injury sustained in a tangle with Martinelli, and the England defender had to be replaced by Joe Gomez at halftime.
By then Arsenal were back in front, sweeping forward on the counter-attack as Martinelli turned provider, whipping the ball across the box for Saka to poke home a simple finish in first-half stoppage time.
Odegaard missed a golden opportunity to increase Arsenal’s lead after the break and two minutes later Liverpool’s Diogo Jota found Firmino with a perfectly weighted through ball for the Brazilian to slot across Aaron Ramsdale and into the net.
Arsenal came blazing back and a wild series of shots and blocks ended in a penalty when Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus and Saka made no mistake from the spot to put his side 3-2 up in the 76th minute.
It was enough to seal a win that takes Arsenal back into first place on 24 points, one ahead of second-placed Manchester City after nine games.
Liverpool’s disappointing start to the season continued, and their second league defeat leaves them in 10th spot on 10 points from eight games.
“In the past two or three years, Liverpool have been a team we have struggled against. To win in front of our fans is special and it shows how much we are progressing,” Saka told Sky Sports.
Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta was delighted with how his side responded to Liverpool’s repeated comebacks.
“The threat that they have in any moment, they can open you up and they can exploit the spaces. I think they were very efficient the chances that they had,” he said
“But I think we showed a lot of composure and character in difficult moments to overcome them, especially the way we played in the second half,” he added.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)