Liverpool fell to their second defeat since being crowned Premier League champions as Arsenal prevailed 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Sadio Mane gave the Reds a much-deserved lead as he got on the end of an Andrew Robertson centre and struck clinically. Virgil van Dijk was surprisingly the provider for Arsenal’s equaliser as he put the ball on a plate for Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman then turned provider as he picked off an equally as poor pass from Alisson and passed to Reiss Nelson who scored just before half-time. Despite the Reds having opportunities to draw level, the best of the opportunities falling to van Dijk and Takumi Minamino, Jurgen Klopp’s men weren’t quite able to find another goal, giving Arsenal a morale-boosting victory.
Mane nets against Arsenal again
Having failed to score a single Premier League goal since mid-January, Roberto Firmino was almost gifted one by Arsenal’s stand-in keeper Emi Martinez. Dallying over a kick, he was chased down by the Brazilian, with the ball cannoning off of his boot and brushing the base of the post.
The forward did play an important role in Liverpool’s opener however. He released Robertson down the left, who in turn squared the ball to Mane for an easy finish.
van Dijk mistake gifts Arsenal equaliser
Just as it looked as though the Gunners were going to get overpowered by the champions, they were gifted an equaliser by none other than van Dijk. Much like Martinez, the Dutchman was hesitant on the ball, allowing Nelson to pressure him. Intending to find Alisson with a pass, he could only find Lacazette, who skipped around the goalkeeper and finished into the far corner to score in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since February 2019.
In what is severely uncharacteristic of their season, another error than saw Arsenal edge ahead. Alisson was this time the culprit as his poor pass was picked off by Lacazette. The Frenchman squared the ball to Nelson who tucked away coolly.
Liverpool chances come and go
Liverpool improved after the break and had some wonderful chances to draw level. Mo Salah had the first of them as he got on the end of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross, dummied his first effort but then his scuffed finish was tipped over the crossbar by Martinez.
Substitute Takumi Minamino was then the next to go close but fired wide on the spin.
Time runs out for the Reds
Liverpool continued to push towards the end of the game, attempting to generate some of powers of recovery that has seen them lift the Premier League title. Salah really should have put them level after getting on the end of a delicious ball from Mane but could only put a weak header straight at Martinez. The Senegalese then did the same as he raced away from the Gunners defence but also put a shot off target from close range.
With the final whistle creeping ever closer, the Reds piled forwards and even went close to sealing a point in the final seconds. Substitute Joe Willock attempted to block Alexander-Arnold’s goal-bound shot but it only served to deflect off of him and spin towards the bottom corner. Somehow though Martinez managed to scramble across his line and paw it away to finally earn the victory for the Gunners.
This victory is not to be underestimated for Arsenal. It looked to be a tough task but they secured it and now look in prime position to secure a place in the Europa League. Whilst Liverpool weren’t at their best and frankly gifted their hosts two goals, the loss will be a blow to the Reds having also fallen to defeat to Manchester City only a couple of weeks ago.
Arsenal: Martinez (7); Tierney (7), Luiz (6), Holding (7); Saka (7) (Kolasinac (N/A), 85′), Xhaka (7), Torreira (6) (Ceballos (6), 57′), Soares (7) (Maitland-Niles (N/A), 76′); Nelson (7) (Willock (6), 58′), Lacazette (7) (Aubameyang (6), 58′), Pepe (6).
Liverpool: Alisson (5); Robertson (6), van Dijk (5), Gomez (6), Alexander-Arnold (6); Wijnaldum (6) (Origi (N/A), 83′), Fabinho (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6) (Keita (6), 61′); Mane (7), Salah (6) (Shaqiri (N/A), 83′), Firmino (6) (Minamino (6), 61′).
Goals: Mane (20′), Lacazette (32′), Nelson (44′)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Yellow Cards: Torreira (45′), Alexander-Arnold (48′), Xhaka (81′), Ceballos (90+1′)
Red Cards: N/A
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