Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool: Klopp’s men close in on Man City
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino scored in the second half as Liverpool triumphed against Arsenal at the Emirates.
Liverpool took full advantage after Man City drew 0-0 at Selhurst Park versus Crystal Palace on Monday.
Jota and Firmino both have great records against Arsenal. Together they have not netted 16 times versus the Gunners.
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The meeting between City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on April 10 will now go a huge way to deciding whether Pep Guardiola’s side will retain their crown or the Reds make it two titles in three years.
Arsenal remain favourites for a top-four finish despite losing here and they held their own until Jota broke the deadlock after 54 minutes.
Mikel Arteta conceded on the eve of the game that his team are not quite at the level of those at the top of the Premier League and being clinical in front of goal appears to be one of the contributing factors, if these 90 minutes were anything to go by.
Early Liverpool pressure saw Virgil Van Dijk force a low save out of Aaron Ramsdale with a free header from a corner.
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.
He also had the ball in the net soon after the interval but the celebrations were cut short as he was correctly adjudged offside.
While Arsenal had created little, they had a short spell of dominance which should a yielded a better return, Alisson Becker making 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, with Jurgen Klopp seeing enough to ready Mohamed Salah and Firmino.
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 as Arteta introduced Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah from the bench.
Martinelli nearly capped a fine personal display with a late goal but bent a shot just inches wide of Alisson’s post as Liverpool saw out the closing stages to move up on the shoulder of City.