ARSENAL 0-2 LIVERPOOL: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool earned a ninth consecutive Premier League victory by overcoming Arsenal at the Emirates last night. Second half goals from Diogo Jota and the returning Roberto Firmino sealed the win. Here’s a review of the match.
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° Lineup. There were two changes to the side that beat Brighton last time out. Thiago came in for Keita in midfield, whilst Diogo Jota took Salah’s place. The Egyptian suffered a knock against Brighton and had only returned to training on Tuesday. The manager chose not to risk him from the start.
° Bright start. Jürgen Klopp noted in his press conference the number of slow starts his side had suffered in recent weeks. That obviously got through to the players as they flew out of the blocks from the first whistle. They knew a win would move them to within a point of City and started like it.
They won the flick on from their routine lump up the pitch at kickoff. They then won two quick corners, from which Van Dijk almost handed them an early lead. His header from Trent’s outswinger was well parried by Ramsdale.
° Arsenal impress. The Gunners settled after that early scare. They had been on a five match winning streak themselves and were full of confidence. They were well set up by Arteta and they employed an aggressive press to disrupt Liverpool’s buildup play.
They succeeded in stifling the Reds’ attacking play and looked comfortable. They kept possession well and tried to set off moves of their own through Saka and the impressive Martinelli. They might not have registered a shot on target but they limited Klopp’s side to none after that early Van Dijk header.
° Mané miss. On the stroke of halftime, Trent (who had his hands full with Martinelli) played a trademark long ball in behind to put Mané through on goal. Sadio brought it down beautifully but skied his effort under pressure from White. That was all Liverpool created from open play first half.
° First half struggles. It was goalless at halftime with Arteta the happier manager. Arsenal’s press seemed to rattle the Reds. The midfield wasn’t imposing itself with Partey winning most of the duels. The forwards were left isolated, with Arsenal denying them any space to operate.
° Fast second half start. Whatever Jürgen Klopp said at halftime worked a treat as his side came flying out of the blocks in the second period. Mané finished unerringly after a Henderson through ball but the flag went up for offside. It was already a huge improvement on a drab first half.
° Alisson comes up trump. A suicidal Thiago backpass handed Arsenal their best chance on the night. Alisson came up with a huge save to deny them a sure goal. He was quick off his line to close down Lacazette before standing tall to block Odegaard’s shot with an outstretched arm.
Had Arsenal scored, it would have been an incredibly uphill battle to get all three points. As it turned out, the Reds went up the other end and opened the scoring three minutes later. Should Liverpool go on to win the title, that Alisson save will be one of the moments of the season!
° Jota comes alive. The Portuguese international had endured a quiet first half where he lost the most duels (5) in the match. He exploded into life when Thiago’s sublime through ball found him in space. He raced clear and fired a left footed shot past Ramsdale’s despairing dive at his near post.
° Double substitution. That was Jota’s last touch of the game as he went off for Salah. Diaz, who had endured his quietest game since joining the club, also made way for Firmino. The Brazilian was making his first appearance since he picked up an injury against Inter at the San Siro.
That must have psychologically done Arsenal’s heads in. They had played out of their skin, only to fall behind to Jota’s strike. They then had to face the last 35 minutes against the topscorer in the country and the silky but relentless Bobby.
° Instant impact. The Brazilian doubled his side’s lead after just six minutes, poking Robertson’s cutback past Ramsdale. That was his ninth league goal against Arsenal, nobody in Liverpool history has more. He sparked an iconic celebration with the travelling Kop afterwards too. What a guy!
° Rampant Robertson. The Scottish skipper was exceptional last night. He was immediately switched on to Saka’s positioning close to the touchline. He kept the youngster quiet and provided what was his 50th assist for the club after excellent work to win the ball back.
Andy Robertson vs Arsenal:
• Most touches (105)
• Second most ball recoveries (9)
• Second most clearances (4)
• Second most interceptions (3)
• Second most tackles won (2)
° The Reds see it out comfortably. It was a comfortable last half hour or so for Klopp’s side. They managed the game perfectly and kept Arsenal at bay. It was comforting to have the original front three together to see it out. The midfield trio were much more dominant by then too.
° Another shutout. This was Liverpool’s ninth successive league victory. In that run, they’ve kept seven clean sheets, conceding just two goals. That is an incredible run of shutouts, and it bodes well for the run in.
° Gap now down to 1 point. What an effort to cut down what seemed an insurmountable 14 point lead back in January. City slipped up against Palace and the Reds took full advantage. The momentum is with Klopp’s side and City are definitely feeling the heat.
It’s a straight sprint to the finish line, with that game at the Etihad shaping up to be a match for the ages. Before that, Liverpool can move top with victory in their next league game (at home to Watford). City would then have to go to Turf Moor and respond. What a run in this promises to be!
° What’s next? A trip to Nottingham Forest for the quarter finals of the FA Cup. The Championship side have already knocked out Arsenal and Leicester and will be no pushovers. The Reds will be aiming to clinch another trip to Wembley and keep their quadruple hopes alive.