Liverpool dented Arsenal’s top-four chances with a 2-0 defeat of the Gunners on Wednesday. The loss snapped Arsenal’s five-game win streak in Premier League play.
Despite the defeat, Arsenal played fairly well against one of the top teams in Europe. The main difference between the two sides came from the clinical nature of Liverpool. In fact, the game played out about as even as possible. Liverpool held a slight edge of possession at just under 52%. Plus, both sides mustered nine total shots, with Liverpool getting three on target to Arsenal’s two.
Unsurprisingly, the talented strikers of Arsenal made the difference in front of net. Diogo Jota netted in the 54th minute before being replaced by Roberto Firmino just two minutes later. The Brazilian added the insurance goal a mere four minutes after coming on.
Contrarily, the Gunners failed to capitalize on their big chances at the opposite end of the pitch.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta claimed that the contrast in ruthlessness between the two teams essentially decided the game.
“It was the difference today. I don’t think there was any other difference apart from that. I think we have closed that gap a lot. It wasn’t enough because when we went through that door and they went through that door, they scored two goals.
“I’m not happy with the goals that we conceded, but it’s part of the game. When you have those chances, you have to take them to get something out of it.”
Arsenal’s top-four hopes still alive and well
While the loss surely disappointed Arteta and the rest of the club, the standings did not change at all. The Gunners entered the night in fourth place, which would mean Champions League qualification. Moreover, the Emirates Stadium side in that position despite playing three fewer games than those also vying for that fourth spot, Manchester United and West Ham.
Now, the remaining two games in hand are essentially wild cards for Arsenal. Getting anything out of these two matches only strengthens their Arsenal’s top-four chances even more.
However, the Gunners need to get back to their winning ways promptly. Arsenal has four matches against clubs currently outside of the top eight in the standings. Then, the fixture list roughens up approaching the final weeks of the season. The Gunners’ next four games are against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Southampton, and Brighton. After that, Arsenal faces Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham, and Tottenham Hotspur.
These eight games will most likely decide whether or not the Gunners will head back to the Champions League for the first time since 2017. Quite the turnaround after Arsenal’s brutal stretch to start the season.
There are some positives looking forward for the Gunners though. Following a defeat at home to Manchester City in January (in fairly similar fashion to the Liverpool loss Wednesday), Arsenal went on a six-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. The Gunners even rattled off four consecutive victories after a loss away to Everton in December as well. Arsenal will have to keep showing that these losses do not necessarily affect future games. The north London club will play Aston Villa on Saturday before yet another international break.
(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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