Momentum is a crucial component for any club seeking a league title, and Liverpool currently has plenty of it. Manchester City lacks it, which is why, following Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Arsenal on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola’s Premier League winners will be concerned that they may be set to finish second in a campaign that appeared to be a one-horse race not long ago.
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino scored second-half goals at the Emirates to give Liverpool their ninth straight league victory and move them one point behind champions City, whom they will meet at the Etihad on April 10. City has dropped seven points in their previous nine games, allowing Liverpool to win the crown for the second time in three seasons.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stated, “We’ve certainly had a terrific spell.” “It’s exactly what we require. We’re one point behind Man City, but the situation remains unchanged. We must be victorious in football contests. Then there’s City, and then there’s everyone else.”
City hasn’t had a poor season. Their 3-2 setback to Tottenham Hotspur at home on February 19 was their first league loss since October, but City and Liverpool have been so close for the previous four years that every point missed matters. City’s 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace on Monday was a surprise setback, but Liverpool still needed to defeat Arsenal to take advantage of it.
The challenge of facing Mikel Arteta’s resurgent Arsenal side at the Emirates was obviously more difficult for Klopp’s men, with the Gunners ascending to fourth place on the strength of five straight league wins and a Premier League undefeated streak dating back to January 1. Although Arsenal were lively and daring in the first half, there was always the feeling that Liverpool would pick up a gear or two after the interval, and that was the case.
The end result might have been different if Alisson had not made a crucial save to deny Martin Odegaard from close range on 51 minutes, but the Liverpool goalkeeper is as much a part of this team as Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, and he proved it with that crucial intervention, which ensured the team’s 12th clean sheet in 18 league games. Klopp’s team took the lead only four minutes after Alisson rose to the challenge when Jota raced onto Thiago Alcantara’s cross and past goalie Aaron Ramsdale with a left-footed shot at the near post for his seventh goal against Arsenal in seven appearances for Liverpool.
It was Jota’s final touch of the game, and Klopp made a critical move by replacing the Portugal striker with Firmino before the interval, and the Brazil international made it 2-0 seven minutes later. Andy Robertson scored the goal after dislodging Bukayo Saka on the left flank before breaching the touchline and pulling back for Firmino to flick beyond Ramsdale. It was game over at 2-0, with Liverpool well in control and Arsenal’s remarkable rally coming to an end.
However, even if Arsenal lost, as they often do against large opponents, the outcome should not be seen as proof that Arteta’s team has the same old flaws. Yes, they’ve only scored three points out of a potential 21 this season against the so-called Big Six. The fact is that this Arsenal team now has a distinct identity and a clear route ahead of it. They are a youthful team that lacks the experience of a club like Liverpool, but they have bright talents in Saka, Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, and Emile Smith Rowe who will only improve.
Ramsdale was at fault for the first goal against Liverpool and could have done better with the second, but since replacing Bernd Leno earlier this season, he has helped Arsenal improve, while Ben White has established himself as a trustworthy centre-back. Arsenal, without a doubt, is miles behind Liverpool, but their race is all about fourth place and Champions League qualification. If that happens, they’ll have a solid foundation on which to compete with Liverpool and City in the future.
“I don’t think the outcome represents the performance,” Arteta remarked, “but they had the crucial moments in the box.” “They scored two goals by putting the ball in the net twice.” This season, [the top two] have set new benchmarks. To deal with this, I must applaud the squad, but we’re here to win football games, and we didn’t do it today.
Arsenal’s fourth-place challengers are Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, and West Ham United, and the Gunners have been more consistent than any of them, so they cannot afford to lose confidence by losing to a Liverpool club that may be the finest in the world right now. Liverpool appear unstoppable, and City are well aware that they have a chance to win the quadruple.
They may have pulled their foot off the gas pedal because things were going too easy for them, but City are back in the championship fight because Liverpool now have the Big Mo, which might propel them to historic glory. Liverpool has won nine of their past ten league games, and if they win the next nine, they will be champions.