Liverpool secured a much-needed victory against Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday night to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to just one point, with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino scoring second-half goals for the Reds in the capital. Express Sport looks at five things learned from a match which confirmed there is very much a title race this season.
Liverpool’s City fight is on
Liverpool had 48 hours between Manchester City’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace and this, knowing victory at Arsenal would move them just one point behind the reigning champions. Jurgen Klopp will have spent a lot of those hours trying to keep his side focused on the task ahead.
And focused they were, recording a huge victory despite a spirited Arsenal performance which now means they are right on the coat-tails of City with nine games left to play. Make no mistake, this Liverpool team are dreaming of winning another title
The Reds’ fixture list appears more difficult than City’s but then they have blistering momentum on their side thanks to a nine-match winning streak in the league. Both Liverpool and City now have just one match each, against Watford and Burnley respectively, before they meet at the Etihad on April 10. Do not miss it.
Liverpool’s depth key
On the basis of the first 50 minutes it looked as though only Sadio Mane would conjure up a goal for Liverpool, having had one disallowed for offside early into the second 45. Up to that point, Luis Diaz and Jota struggled to truly influence the proceedings.
And then Jota scored his fifth Emirates goal in just his third visit as a Liverpool player, squeezing a shot past Aaron Ramsdale at his near post. He was subbed off seconds later and his replacement Firmino needed just six minutes to make it 2-0.
Mohamed Salah also came off the bench after dropping out of the starting XI due to a knock. And it is such depth, and the ability for Liverpool to bring on attackers of such immense talent when others aren’t at their best, that will see them take this title race right to the final minute.
Klopp previously called Gabriel Martinelli the “talent of the century” and again the Brazilian, who the German labelled “outstanding” after their Emirates Carabao Cup meeting in January, will have impressed the Liverpool boss here.
Trent Alexander-Arnold kept a clean sheet but will be having nightmares of the tenacious Martinelli whose movement, pace and close control on the dribble delighted the Arsenal crowd on multiple occasions. He almost had the goal his performance deserved when he curled just wide late on.
Still just 20 years old, Martinelli will play a massive role if Arsenal are to qualify for the Champions League this season. And not just that, he has a major part to play if the Gunners are restore themselves as perennial title challengers and trophy winners under Mikel Arteta.
Liverpool’s staunch defence
Alexander-Arnold may have had his individual struggles against Martinelli but barring one worrying moment that saw Martin Odegaard force a save after Thiago Alcantara’s lax back-pass, Liverpool were resolute defensively.
Their clean sheet in north London means across a nine-match winning streak in the Premier League, Liverpool have conceded a mere two goals. From 29 league games, they have leaked 20 times, just two more than City.
How watertight will they be when they face off with City next month? That’s the big question. If the Merseyside club’s back-line can help frustrate Pep Guardiola and co, perhaps they might be the ones with the trophy in their hands on May 22.
Arsenal on the up
Going into this, Arsenal had won just one of six meetings with the Premier League’s ‘big six’ this season, their solitary triumph coming at home to Tottenham. As their performance showed here, they are making progress in the high-profile fixtures.
They also almost held Manchester City to a point at the Emirates in January, only denied a draw by an injury-time Rodri goal. And despite defeat here they came away with plenty of credit. They made it very hard work on and off the ball for Liverpool with a high-intensity display for the first hour.
Before the final game they still have to play Chelsea and Spurs away and welcome United to north London. More performances like this against those teams, and a continuation of the momentum they’ve built against lesser sides, and top four will surely be theirs.