Arsenal stuns Liverpool to end 100-point dream
Liverpool will not become the second Premier League team to post a 100-point season following a 2-1 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Alexandre Lacazette had a goal and an assist as Arsenal capitalized on atypical errors from two of Liverpool’s brightest.
Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker gave away the ball deep in Liverpool territory after the Reds had opened up a 1-0 lead through Sadio Mane.
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Liverpool now maxes out at 99 points if it beats Chelsea and Newcastle to complete its championship season.
The Gunners move onto 53 points, three back of sixth place and six back of the top four. Arsenal hosts Man City in an FA Cup semifinal on Saturday.
Liverpool can no longer meet Man City’s record of 100 points in a Premier League season, the Reds looking like the latest early clincher to lose their intensity.
Three things we learned
1. Intensity replicated is difficult: Jurgen Klopp bristled in a big way when reporters asked him about Liverpool’s mentality following a whooping at the hands of Man City days after winning the Premier League. It would be difficult for him to say there’s any other reason his Reds have failed to keep up their historic pace following the completion of their massive goals. There’s not too much wrong with that either, by the way, when you consider how much was poured into chasing City last year and roaring through this season. And that’s before the effects of a global pandemic.
Liverpool won the league with seven matches to play. Here’s how their finish resembles the four teams to share the previous record of clinching with five to go.
Everton 1984-85: 2W-3L
Man Utd 1907-08: 1W-2L-2D
Man Utd 2000-01: 1W-1D-3L
Man City 2017-18: 4W-1D
Liverpool 2019-20: 2W-1D-2L (two matches remaining)
2. Mikel’s glorious ‘oops’ win: Arsenal worked really hard to get its points and Mikel Arteta will rightly hang his hat on a win over the champions, but he’ll also have a chuckle considering he was clearly choosing his lineup to rest up for the weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against old pals Man City. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench, where Dani Ceballos and Hector Bellerin also started the day. Arsenal is deep enough to challenge anyone on a given day
3. Defense matters: For all the hope Arsenal’s engendered with the offensive fireworks of Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, and the like, what Arteta’s done with his defensive shape and organization has been key to providing optimism regarding his project. The marking on Liverpool’s opener wasn’t great but this is Liverpool nonetheless and chances are going to come their way. The Leicester City draw and Spurs loss following what felt like a momentous win over Wolves asked questions of Arteta. Wednesday was a fine response.
Man of the Match
Lacazette’s goal and an assist make him an easy mention, but Martinez’s eight-save day was a good one. He had an early mistake but the 27-year-old Argentine made four of his stops from inside the box. Not bad.
Arsenal - Liverpool recap
The Reds got on the board after a lengthy feeling out period that saw the visitors in relative control when Mane belted home from close range in the 20th.
Andrew Robertson cut back for the Senegalese scorer as Arsenal fell asleep at the back.
A rare error from Van Dijk gave the lead right back. Hassled by Reiss Nelson, the Dutchman made a poor pass back to Alisson Becker that Lacazette stole to make it 1-1.
The Reds then allowed a second goal when Nelson lashed past Alisson from close range after Lacazette stole the keeper’s goofy clearing attempt. It’s Nelson’s first PL goal.
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Liverpool looked ready to tie the game in the 54th when Trent Alexander-Arnold slid the ball to Mohamed Salah outside the six.
The Egyptian used quick feet to move around David Luiz and shoot but Martinez poked it over the bar.
Substitute Takumi Minamino saw a 63rd minute shot deflect off David Luiz and wide of Martinez’s far post.
Salah hit a free but tame header to Martinez off a Mane cross in the 70th minute.
Arsenal did an effective job of keeping the Reds outside the danger areas in fighting for the final whistle, which came after one lost incredible stop from Martinez.