Liverpool beat Arsenal, cut down Manchester City’s lead to one point
Liverpool struck twice in eight second-half minutes to win at Arsenal on Wednesday and move to within a point of Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League.
With Manchester City held to a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on Monday, Liverpool took full advantage, winning their game in hand 2-0.
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino scored the goals.
The meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on April 10 will now be decisive.
It will go a huge way to decide whether Pep Guardiola’s side will retain their crown or the Reds make it two titles in three years.
“We were wishing Manchester City dropped points and they did,” Liverpool midfielder Thiago said.
“We just try to win each game we have. We have to analyse this game, to go through the things we did wrong and right, then look forward. That is the key —- to stay humble and hungry.”
Arsenal remain favourites for a top-four finish in spite of losing this one and they held their own until Jota broke the deadlock after 54 minutes.
Manager Mikel Arteta conceded on the eve of the game that his team were not quite at the level of those at the top of the Premier League.
Being clinical in front of goal appears to be one of the contributing factors, if these 90 minutes were anything to go by.
“From box to box, we did everything that we’d planned,” he said. “What happened in the boxes was a different story, that’s where we lost the game. I think the whole team played fantastically well. I don’t think the result reflects the performance, but in the box they had the decisive moments. They put the ball in the net twice.”
Early Liverpool pressure saw Virgil Van Dijk force a low save out of Aaron Ramsdale with a free header from a corner-kick.
With rain pouring down, it was a blood and thunder contest.
But the first half was one of few chances, Gabriel Martinelli and Thomas Partey shining for the hosts.
Liverpool’s forwards were getting very little out of the Arsenal backline, but Sadio Mane missed a presentable chance to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
While Arsenal had created little, they had a short spell of dominance which should have yielded a better return.
But, Alisson Becker made a fine save from Martin Odegaard after an errant Thiago Alcantara back-pass had been collected by Alexandre Lacazette.
Bukayo Saka forced Alisson into another save from the resulting corner-kick, with Juergen Klopp seeing enough to get Mohamed Salah and Firmino ready to join in.
Before they had a chance to enter the fray, however, Liverpool hit the front as Thiago’s slide-rule pass found Jota, who finished low past Ramsdale.
The Arsenal goalkeeper no doubt disappointed to be beaten at his near post.
The two substitutions still took place, Jota one of those to be replaced immediately after breaking the deadlock, but Klopp’s decision was soon vindicated.
Firmino cut a ball across the box which ultimately saw Salah denied by a combination of Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White.
But Liverpool kept the pressure on and Firmino’s smart finish from Andy Robertson’s cross doubled the lead.
Arsenal had no response to the double, though Martinelli nearly capped a fine personal display with a late goal but bent a shot just inches wide of Alisson’s post.
Liverpool only needed to see out the closing stages to move up on the shoulder of Manchester City.
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