Blown It! Liverpool Self-implode As 100 Points Record Dreams Disappear, As Arsenal Holds Them To 2-1
Despite dominating against Arsenal, two uncharacteristic errors from Jurgen Klopp’s side ended their hopes of reaching 100 points for the season
A Virgil van Dijk howler, an Alisson Becker error. And yet more evidence for the ‘2020 is weird’ file.
Liverpool’s latest shot at history is gone. Jurgen Klopp’s side surrendered their chance of a record top-flight points total with a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Their third loss of the season means they now cannot beat or even equal Manchester City’s record of 100 points, set in 2017-18.
The Reds had looked in full control when Sadio Mane fired them into a 20th-minute lead. They had started brightly, dominating proceedings against a side which had rested at least four starters with an eye on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against City. Everything looked rosy for the newly-crowned champions.
Then Van Dijk dallied, Reiss Nelson pressed and Alexandre Lacazette profited. Arsenal, from nowhere, were level.
If that was a surprise, then so was what came next. Receiving a throw-in from Andy Robertson, Alisson left his return pass horribly short. Lacazette found Nelson, who found the corner. The Gunners had two shots in the first half and scored twice.
In fact, they only had three in the entire 90 minutes. Liverpool had 23.
But the Reds went in behind having scored first for the first time since December 2016, when Loris Karius was in goal and Ragnar Klavan finished at centre-back. They had not dropped a single point from a winning position prior to Saturday; now they have dropped five in the space of four days.
“I’ve been in that position,” said Graeme Souness, the former Reds captain, at half-time. “And you can’t explain why you suddenly drop off.”
Complacency? Fatigue? Bad luck? Football’s natural cycle? Certainly these were unusual moments.
Alisson and Van Dijk have been the rocks upon which Liverpool’s success has been built, but even the best can short-circuit from time to time. Klopp, at least, will be glad they waited until the title was wrapped up before doing so.
Still, it will annoy him that his side, generally underwhelming since football restarted last month, were unable to recover from those self-inflicted wounds. They were as dominant in the second half as they had been in the first, but Emiliano Martinez remained largely untroubled in the Arsenal goal. At times, the ‘champions of everything’ looked a little toothless.
Mo Salah drew a blank, and can probably forget about a third successive Premier League Golden Boot award now. Alisson can still secure the Golden Glove, but Liverpool have now kept only three clean sheets in their last 10 league matches, either side of lockdown. They are not at their best, for sure.
It might not matter in the grand scheme, of course. Nothing can take the shine off a season which saw them become English champions for the first time since 1990.
They will get their hands on the Premier League trophy after playing Chelsea at Anfield next week, and can reflect on a truly wonderful campaign. The memories of 2019-20 will last a lifetime, even if the ending has been a little tame.
No record, then. No place in the history books, no final dig into Manchester City’s ribs.
Just a league title.
They’d have taken that at the start of campaign, eh?