Arsenal capitalised on shocking errors from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Alisson to beat the champions 2-1 at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday and end their hopes of a record points tally for the Premier League season.
– Check the latest Premier League standings
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+
– What did you miss? The latest from Europe’s top leagues
The loss means Liverpool, on 93 points, can now only stretch that tally to 99, one short of Manchester City’s record. Arsenal’s first win against Liverpool since April 2015 lifts them one place to ninth in the table on 53 points.
Arsenal can also still win silverware this season as they face City on Saturday in the FA Cup semifinals (stream the match on ESPN+).
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta acknowledged Wednesday’s win will give them momentum going into that match against City.
“Absolutely, in terms of energy and happiness in the dressing room before the semifinal, it’s a good medicine. To beat this team you have to have moments in the game when you take your chances, defend and have a bit of luck,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp bemoaned the lapses in play from the usually reliable Van Dijk and Alisson.
“Twice, a massive lack of concentration, we took a break after 1-0, especially in the first half before the goal, we were just brilliant, we had 24-3 shots, that’s incredible but these two moments killed the game for us,” Klopp said. “Arsenal had no real chances, another shot in the last second, you cannot win football games when you concede goals like this.”
The visitors created all the early pressure and opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Sadio Mane lashed in his 17th goal of the season from close range.
Yet the home side, playing without their leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, were handed a free pass back into the game 12 minutes later when Van Dijk made a back pass straight into the path of Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.
The Frenchman calmly rounded defender Fabinho and keeper Alisson and fired into an empty net.
A second moment of calamitous work at the back from Liverpool then gifted the lead to Arsenal before the break, when Alisson attempted a chipped ball out to Robertson that Lacazette ran onto and pulled back to Reiss Nelson.
The 20-year-old turned and shaped his shot beyond the diving keeper into the bottom left corner.
“The goals we gave them as a present. Until their first goal, it was totally us, we gave them two goals and it is difficult to come back. We got what we deserved,” Van Dijk said after the match.
Nelson expressed his excitement for scoring the game-winner.
“You dream as a little boy to score against the big boys — so I’m happy with the results and with my goal,” said Nelson. “When I get home I’ll celebrate with my family. I am delighted with the goal and the lads were excellent tonight.”
Yet as Liverpool poured forward after the break and created numerous chances, the best of which from Salah was palmed over the bar at the last second by keeper Emiliano Martinez, Arteta responded.
He shored up his side with a triple substitution, bringing off both his goalscorers and Lucas Torreira and replacing them with Aubameyang, Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock.
Klopp then took off Firmino and brought on Takumi Minamino, who had an almost immediate shout for a penalty after coming into contact with Kieran Tierney in front of the Arsenal goal.
The visitors kept up the pressure but despite at times driving almost the entire Arsenal team back into their own penalty area, they were unable to find a way through.
“We will go for both, our maximum, it is just a few games so we will keep going. The gap between the two teams today is enormous, we cannot improve it in two months, but the accountability, the fight is now equal and I am very proud of that. The rest will take some time,” added Arteta.