Momentum is an essential ingredient for any team chasing a league title and Liverpool are currently brimming with it. Manchester City haven’t got it and that’s why, after Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Arsenal on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions will be worried about being close to finishing second in what looked like, not so long ago, like a one-horse race.
Second-half goals from Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino at the Emirates secured Liverpool’s ninth successive league victory and moved them just a point behind leaders City, who they will face at the Etihad on April 10. In their last nine games, City have dropped seven points and as a result, they have opened the door for Liverpool to win the title for the second time in three seasons.
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“We obviously had a good period,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “That’s what we need. We’re at a point [behind Man City], but it’s still the same. We have to win football matches. Then we play City, then everyone else.”
City didn’t play badly. Their 3-2 home loss to Tottenham Hotspur on February 19 was their first league defeat since October, but City and Liverpool have been so close to each other over the past four years that every point dropped counts. Monday’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace was an unexpected stumble for City, but Liverpool still needed to beat Arsenal to capitalize on it.
Facing Mikel Arteta’s resurgent Emirates side was undoubtedly a tougher challenge for Klopp’s players, with the Gunners climbing to fourth after five straight league wins and a Premier League unbeaten run dating back to January 1. But although Arsenal were bright and adventurous in the first half, there was still a feeling that Liverpool were the team most likely to kick things up a gear or two after the break and it paid off.
If Alisson hadn’t made a crucial save to stop Martin Odegaard from close range in the 51st minute, the end result might have been different, but the Liverpool keeper is as important a part of this team as Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk and he proved it with that. decisive intervention, which secured the team’s 12th clean sheet in 18 league games. Less than four minutes after Alisson rose to the challenge, Klopp’s side were in front when Jota ran over Thiago Alcantara’s pass before beating goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale with a left-footed strike to the near post for his seventh goal against Arsenal in seven games for Liverpool.
It was the finishing touch to Jota’s game, with Firmino replacing the Portuguese striker ahead of the restart, and it proved to be a key change from Klopp with the Brazil international making it 2-0 seven minutes later . The goal was scored by Andy Robertson, who dispossessed Bukayo Saka on the left before breaking the touchline and moving back for Firmino past Ramsdale. At 2-0, the game was over – Liverpool were firmly in control and Arsenal’s recent revival was over.
But although Arsenal ended up doing what they tend to do against big teams – losing – the result shouldn’t be taken as proof that Arteta’s side have the same old shortcomings. And yes, they only took three points from a possible 21 against the so-called Big Six this season. The reality of this Arsenal side is that they now have a clear identity and path ahead of them. They’re young and don’t have the spirit of a team as experienced as Liverpool, but in Saka, Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe they have shining stars who will only get better.
Ramsdale was at fault for the first goal against Liverpool and should have done better with the second, but nonetheless he has made Arsenal better since replacing Bernd Leno earlier this season, while Ben White has become a reliable player at the Midfielder. There’s no doubt that Arsenal are miles behind Liverpool, but their race is all about finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League. If that happens, then they have a platform to build on to compete with Liverpool and City for years to come.
“I don’t think the result reflects the performance, but in the box they had the decisive moments,” Arteta said. “They put the ball in the net twice.”[The top two] have set yet another standard this season. To deal with this I have to congratulate the team, but we are here to win football games and today we didn’t.”
Tottenham, Manchester United and West Ham United are Arsenal’s rivals for fourth place and the Gunners have been more consistent than any of them so they cannot allow confidence to be shaken by losing to a Liverpool side who might just be the best in the world at this point. instant in time. Liverpool look unstoppable, and they could still do the quadruple, and City know that too.
They took their foot off the pedal, perhaps because everything was getting too easy for them, but City are in a title chase again because Liverpool have the Big Mo and that could now lead them to historic success. They have won their last nine league games – if they win their next nine, Liverpool will be champions.