Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, left, celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Liverpool’s Emre Can during the Champions League qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Hoffenheim at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
By Rob Harris, Associated Press
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Humiliation for Arsenal at Liverpool. More Wembley frustration for Tottenham.
The north London clubs had an afternoon to forget in the Premier League on Sunday before the two-week international break.
An error-strewn display by Arsenal was punished at Anfield where Liverpool surged to a 4-0 victory.
At the same time in the capital, Tottenham was heading for only its third victory in 12 matches at Wembley until Burnley struck in stoppage time to claim a 1-1 draw at English football’s national stadium.
Chelsea, which beat Tottenham at its temporary home for the season last Sunday, followed up with a 2-0 victory over Everton as the champions showed they have quickly recovered from a shock opening-day loss to Burnley.
West Bromwich Albion missed out on a third consecutive win when it was held 1-1 by Stoke. It leaves Manchester United, which beat Leicester 2-0 on Saturday, as the only team with a perfect record after three of 38 rounds.
This was the platform for Liverpool’s attacking unit to flourish, and they seized it. There were certainly no signs Liverpool missed Philippe Coutinho, who is embroiled in a transfer stand-off, as Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and substitute Daniel Sturridge scored.
Liverpool went ahead in the 17th minute when the opener was gifted. Firmino ghosted into the penalty area to meet Joe Gomez’s cross unmarked and sent a downward header past goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Even after conceding, Arsenal remained as chaotic and lethargic, never looking capable of mounting a comeback — particularly after conceding again five minutes before halftime. A counterattack launched from inside the Liverpool penalty area by Gomez was completed by Mane’s shot into the far corner of the net.
The third goal was conceded just after Arsenal had taken a corner. Salah pinched the ball off Hector Bellerin and was given the freedom to dart forward unchallenged before the Egyptian netted his third Liverpool goal.
Salah turned provider for the fourth with a cross met by the unmarked Sturridge and headed past Cech.
Arsenal didn’t even manage a single shot on goal as Arsene Wenger’s side endured a second successive loss. It was a quiet day for Loris Karius, who was unexpectedly selected ahead of Liverpool first-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
“We’re very disappointed with the way we performed but we have to accept it,” Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey said. “We’re sorry to the fans that came up. It’s not good enough and we have to do something about it.
“We’re going to have to change something if we’re to compete this year. That wasn’t good enough. Liverpool showed what it’s going to have to take to compete for the Premier League.”
The mantra from Tottenham is: Don’t blame Wembley. There’s little point — last season’s runners-up are stuck there for the season while its White Hart Lane home is redeveloped.
Harry Kane’s failure to score in this game, or any game in August in the Premier League, certainly can’t be blamed on Wembley. The league’s top scorer last season, Kane missed several chances to build on Dele Alli’s opener. It proved costly when Chris Wood marked his Burnley debut by striking in the equalizer in stoppage time.
“If some people think about (Wembley being a problem) they need to stop,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “We are responsible to do better and try to win, and the way today we conceded a goal it was not the problem of Wembley.”
CHELSEA ON TRACK
Memories of the opening day loss to Burnley are fading at Chelsea after victory over Tottenham was followed by midfielder Cesc Fabregas and off-season recruit Alvaro Morata securing goals to sweep aside Everton.
Yet doubts persist about Antonio Conte’s future as the champions’ squad has not been reinforced as significantly as he hoped ahead of the summer transfer window closing on Thursday.
“I’m totally committed to the club,” Conte said at Stamford Bridge. “I’m a coach, I’m not a manager. The best of my work is on the pitch, to try to improve my players, to try to improve my team.
“Then when you want to strengthen your squad you have to give your opinion and speak with your club. But then the club go to the transfer market and try to solve the situation, try to help us.”
West Brom led through Jay Rodriguez’s strike but a defensive mistake was exploited by Peter Crouch, who headed Stoke level.
“It was disappointing,” West Brom manager Tony Pulis said after being held by his former club. “For all their possession I didn’t think that they created all that many clear-cut chances. These things happen. They bring Crouchy on and without him doing anything his presence unnerves defenders.”
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