|Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli whistles away from Trent Alexander Arnold in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday night. (Photo credit: BBC)|
Liverpool closed the gap between them and Manchester City with a hard fought 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
The game was highly anticipated considering the antecedents of goals and tradition, a fixture of huge significance to the title race as well as the fight for top four finish. Both sides went into the fixture on the back of winning streaks and one or both was always going to end.
Arsenal returned the same line up that beat Leicester last weekend while Jurgen Klopp left out Mohammed Salah and started Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz together for the first time, Tiago Alcantara was also preferred to Naby Keita in the middle of the park.
It was an evenly matched affair in the opening exchanges, Virgil Van Dijk forced a fine save from Aaron Ramsdale from corner in what was only the real chance the Kops had in the first half, although they didn’t have a shot on target in the first half, Arsenal troubled the Liverpool defense with forays from both flanks.
Arsenal had a golden chance to take the lead early in the second half. Alcantara’s wayward back pass was intercepted by Alexander Lacazette, the Arsenal captain rounded Alisson and found Martin Odegaard unmarked in the Liverpool area, the Brazilian goalkeeper recovered quickly to thwart the Dane.
That was the wake-up call Liverpool needed and just moments later, Arsenal conceded. Alcantara found Jota in space and the Portuguese beat Ramsdale at his near post, that brilliant effort was Jota’s last kick as he was replaced by Mohammed Salah.
Salah and Firminho were introduced and one soon became two. Robertson chased down a poor Arsenal clearance and found Firminho in the Arsenal box and a deft finish by the Brazilian forward doubled Liverpool’s lead.
"I'm very excited about [the title race] and the team and the situation we are in, but that does not change everything. We just need to keep going," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. "I saw a hard-working team in the first half and in the second half we enjoyed it more and that was when we really stepped up.
"We really want to enjoy the situation we are in by winning football matches. It's tough. We keep the right mindset for it."
"I don't think the result reflects the performance, but in the box they had the decisive moments," Arteta said. "They put the ball in the net twice. "[The top two] have set other standards again this season. To cope with that, I have to congratulate the team, but we're here to win football matches and today we didn't do it."