Hector Bellerin insists Arsenal‘s first win of the season was always going to be “just a question of time” as the Gunners beat West Ham on Saturday.
Unai Emery went into the London derby having lost his first two matches as Arsenal’s new head coach, to Manchester City and Chelsea.
Despite falling behind to a Marko Arnautovic strike, his side hit back to win as Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck scored – with an Issa Diop own goal helping the hosts along to a 3-1 victory.
Bellerin set up two of the goals but struggled defensively at times as West Ham, whose pointless start to the campaign continues, arguably did enough to earn a draw.
“I wouldn’t describe it as relief,” Bellerin told Arsenal Media. “We’ve been working hard now for the last two months, so we knew it was just a question of time.
“We had two tough games to start after lots of changes at the club. We knew it was a question of time, a question of scoring the chances that we had.”
While Emery now has his first Premier League points, and rejected suggestions he had a row with Mesut Ozil before the game, Arsenal still made heavy weather of seeing off the Hammers and were lucky that the visitors lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.
“We still could have been even more efficient,” added Bellerin.
“But even though we started behind in the scores, we turned it around and I was very happy with the reaction of the team as well.
“We knew we were playing at home with our crowd, it was a tough team, they’ve had a very good summer window.
“They’ve signed loads of top players, so even though they were still getting used to each other as well, we knew it was going to be tough. I think the score doesn’t show how hard it was on the pitch.”
Liverpool summer signing Alisson Becker arrived at Anfield with a then world-record price for a goalkeeper but he has already begun justifying the £65million price tag.
The Brazil international is only the third Liverpool goalkeeper in 51 years to keep clean sheets in the first three league matches of a season after Bruce Grobbelaar, Jose Reina and Simon Mignolet, who achieved the feat twice.
A late stop from substitute Pascal Gross ensured Mohamed Salah‘s 23rd-minute goal secured a 1-0 victory and a third successive win as Jurgen Klopp’s went side top of the table for the first time since November 2016.
However, it is other aspects of the Brazilian’s game which have got people talking.
Klopp has already referenced Alisson’s aptitude with the ball at his feet, but it is something which is still taking some getting used to by fans who have grown accustomed to a nervousness bordering on panic watching previous goalkeepers deal with back-passes.
But their new summer signing is as laid back as they come and regularly takes on – and beats – onrushing forwards.
In the first half he came charging out to meet a through-ball, barely connected and was fortunate to see Solomon March’s miscontrol knock it out of play, while later on he was almost caught in possession as Liverpool played it across the penalty area.
But the piece de resistance came late in the second half when Virgil van Dijk, previously Liverpool’s coolest character on the ball, left his back-pass a fraction short and Anthony Knockaert sensed his chance.
But Alisson waited until the last possible moment before chipping the ball over his opponent’s outstretched leg, bringing it under control and returning it to Van Dijk.
It brought gasps of astonishment and roars of approval but even Klopp admits it gave him a nervous moment.
“That’s not too cool for a manager. If it works then it’s cool,” Klopp said.
“I had a few centre-halves who were able to do things a centre-half should not do, like Mats Hummels (at Borussia Dortmund) constantly doing things which made no sense but he was really good in there.
“Alisson is obviously a goalkeeper who can play football, which is good. He’s confident enough to do it. He didn’t do it for showing off, he did it to sort the situation.
“He has a nice level of confidence, so he uses that. I like the save from the header more than the chip, but the chip was the right thing to do in that situation.”
Klopp has had to defend his massive outlay on a 25-year-old goalkeeper who had only one, albeit impressive, season at Roma but he has gone past that now.
“Was there criticism in England? I thought in England you got this (a pat on the back) for spending big,” Klopp said.
“I couldn’t be less interested in that by the way. We did it because we were convinced.
“We didn’t make the price, we only wanted a good player and the owners gave us the opportunity to do so.”
Klopp may find himself speaking as regularly about Alisson as he did last season about Salah, who has picked up where he left off with second goals in three matches.
Salah took his tally to 29 in as many matches at Anfield with a low finish off the inside of the far post in a rare moment of precision in an otherwise disjointed game.
Despite a second defeat of the season, Brighton manager Chris Hughton has been happy with their displays.
“We need to make sure we have the same level of performance in the games we can realistically get points from,” he said.
“If we get that level of performance throughout the season, then we’ll be fine.”
Chelsea are insistent owner Roman Abramovich is not looking to sell the club.
A report in the Sunday Times has claimed club directors acting for the Russian billionaire have brought in advisers from merchant bank Raine Group as part of a strategic review.
The newspaper also states Abramovich rejected an offer for a minority stake in the club from Silver Lake Partners, an American private equity firm.
It was reported in June that Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe had failed with a £2billion bid for Chelsea.
The club announced in May that plans to redevelop their Stamford Bridge stadium had been put on hold, which was interpreted in some quarters as Abramovich’s response to delays over the issuing of a UK investor’s visa.
According to a club source familiar with the situation, Abramovich has no plans to sell the London club and nothing has changed in that regard.
He bought Chelsea in 2003, since when the club have enjoyed the most success in their history, with five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League among their trophy wins.