Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Champions stumble again after Gunners comeback

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Virgil van Dijk and Alisson BOTH make rare errors leading to goals as Mikel Arteta’s side come from behind to end champions’ hopes of breaking Manchester City’s points record

  • Arsenal came from behind against league champions Liverpool at the Emirates on Wednesday evening
  • Sadio Mane gave the champions the lead in the 20th minute from close-range after visitors made a fast start
  • A Virgil Van Dijk gaffe gifted an equaliser to Gunners star Alexandre Lacazette as he rounded the goalkeeper
  • Alisson then made a clanger, with Reiss Nelson finishing accurately into the net to gift Arsenal the victory

Jurgen Klopp always insisted he did not think, or care, about records. It is just as well then because, on Wednesday night, in the most bizarre fashion, quite a significant one slipped from Liverpool’s grasp.

Manchester City’s 100 points in a single season from 2017-18. It will stand now. It cannot be beaten, or even matched. 

Following this, their third defeat of the season, the most Liverpool can now attain is 99 points. It’s still an incredible feat, of course. It’s still the second greatest total in English football history, and the quickest the title has ever been won. Even so, there may be a tinge of disappointment for those devotees who were hoping Klopp’s team might erase Pep Guardiola’s men from the record books entirely. At one stage, that looked almost inevitable. Not so long ago, it was thought Liverpool might usurp Arsenal’s Invincibles, too. 

Arsenal bounced back from a defeat to Tottenham at the weekend with Reiss Nelson scoring the winner against Liverpool

Liverpool collapsed at the Emirates after taking the lead to add to their patchy recent form since they secured the league title

Jurgen Klopp (left) said he didn’t care about the records, but his side now cannot equal or beat Man City’s 100 points record

It just shows how hard this competition is; how hard it is to go a season unbeaten, even with more than a few draws; how hard it is to reach treble figures. 

Perhaps Liverpool were just too good, their supremacy too apparent from way out. On average, Premier League champions accrue 0.5 points per game fewer once the deed is done – and Liverpool have had further to travel with their feet up than any team in history.

That is certainly what will be read into Wednesday night’s reverse, both Arsenal goals coming from the unlikeliest errors by Liverpool’s defensive stalwarts, the home side barely creating a chance that was not gifted to them. Yet that is not the whole story.  


ARSENAL: Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Soares (Maitland-Niles 76), Torreira (Ceballos 57), Xhaka, Nelson (Willock 58), Pepe, Lacazette (Aubameyang 58), Saka

SUBS NOT USED: Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Macey

GOALS: Lacazette 32, Nelson 44

BOOKED: Torreira 

LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita 62), Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Firmino (Minamino 61), Mane, Salah (Origi 83)

SUBS NOT USED: Lovren, Adrian, Shaqiri, Jones, Elliot, Williams

GOALS: Mane 20

BOOKED: Alexander-Arnold

Season at a glance

Sadio Mane (left) scored Liverpool’s opener at the Emirates after finishing Andy Robertson’s cross as Klopp’s side struck first

The champions celebrate breaking the deadlock against the north Londoners on Wednesday but their smiles would not last

Mikel Arteta left out many of his first-choice players – in particular striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – no doubt to focus on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City. 

He was rewarded with a gutsy display of admirable determination, not least in the second-half when Liverpool dominated the ball in search of an equaliser. For long periods, the champions recorded possession statistics above 80 per cent, but Arsenal’s back line stayed strong. Having conceded costly late goals in their previous games with Leicester and Tottenham, that is hugely important.

David Luiz had one of those games that make his others – the comically calamitous ones – so hard to comprehend. As the final whistle neared he was repelling Liverpool’s bombardment like a curly John Terry, rising above the likes of Virgil van Dijk to head the ball clear, and firmly resisting the temptation to do something daft. 

Kieran Tierney is certainly not a problem here, and even Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is not getting as many chances under Arteta, played a vital role in a frantic denouement, after coming on as a 76th minute substitute. 

It is a win that leaves Arsenal ninth, but now within three points of Wolves in sixth, giving them a late swing at a Europa League place. Maybe too late, but hope remains. Arteta has actually collected more points than Klopp, as many games into his Liverpool career.

His boys got lucky in the first-half here, though, and he will know that. It was an incredibly peculiar 45 minutes. Liverpool completely on top and leading – that wasn’t the peculiar part – before conceding two goals down to mistakes by arguably the most reliable players of their season. 

Alexandre Lacazette pounced on an error at the back to slot home and draw Arsenal level with Virgil Van Dijk the one at fault

It was an uncharacteristic mistake from Van Dijk (left) that allowed the Gunners to equalise having had such a strong season

Van Dijk and Alisson. The league’s outstanding defender, and a candidate for Footballer of the Year, and its best goalkeeper. Both guilty of calamitous errors, 12 minutes apart. 

Would it have happened had the title rested on this match? We can never know – but it didn’t happen too often when it was still being contested. Both men have turned in near flawless seasons to here.

The first 30 minutes? Well that went as expected. Arteta’s changed team was getting pretty much what it merited to that point. The players could barely get out of their half and Liverpool’s goal was a matter of when, not if. 

It looked as if it would come after 12 minutes initially, when stand-in goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez dawdled too long with the ball at his feet, before clipping the outstretched leg of Roberto Firmino as he tried to launch it clear. The ball ricocheted and struck a post before spinning away – a lucky break.

It was Martinez’s boot that began the move that ended in Liverpool’s goal, however, his kick swerving away to the right and collected in front of Klopp on the touchline for a typically swift Liverpool counter-attack. Firmino drove it, finding Andrew Robertson on the overlap. So well-drilled is this Liverpool team that he didn’t need to look up, his cross falling perfectly for Sadio Mane who finished it from close range.

And that looked to be that. Arsenal had shown no sign of matching the champions and when, after 32 minutes, Alexandre Lacazette was caught more than a metre offside, it seemed to sum up the sloppiness that is so often the product of a weakened side. Scratch that, then, because within the same minute he had put Arsenal level. 

Youngster Nelson then netted just before the break as Arsenal completed the turnaround to end Liverpool’s hopes of a record

The academy winger had started six times in the Premier League this season before playing against the Reds on Wednesday

A Van Dijk mistake is a priceless as a Van Dyck masterpiece and this one was a real piece of art. 

From the offside restart, Liverpool’s defensive rock received the ball and was instantly hustled by Reiss Nelson, 20 years old but without 20 appearances in the Premier League as yet. Van Dijk was rattled and served up a panicked and weak escape pass to Alisson. It fell short, allowing Lacazette to intercept. He took the ball around the goalkeeper and finished into an empty goal. Somehow, having created nothing of their own, Arsenal were level.

The second goal was of Liverpool’s hapless creation, too. Alisson attempted a pass to Robertson on the left which was again underhit and stolen by Lacazette who must have been wondering how many goals he might have scored with this kind of service from his own players. He cut it inside to Nelson, who displayed a calm that belied his years, as good as picking his spot through a reasonably crowded area. It nestled in the far corner, Alisson unable to correct his mistake. 

Arteta would have twirled a moustache fiendishly if he, or any Arsenal strategist, had played any part in this remarkable fightback.

And so to the second-half, which was as predictable as one might imagine. It began with a momentous scramble in the 49th minute that saw Luiz bravely thwart Trent Alexander-Arnold and then Mo Salah. Just five minutes later the pair combined again – Alexander-Arnold finding Salah who attempted a brilliant up and down chip from close range which Martinez kept out with a fingertip save. 

The pressure was relentless. Mane struck a cross which deserved a better finish from Salah, and Van Dijk headed wide from a Robertson cross. Mane then shot wide from Liverpool’s 20th attempt of the game. Yet Arsenal held firm to the last – an Alexander-Arnold shot was deflected and then palmed wide by Martinez four minutes into extra-time – and it’s not often we’ve been able to say that of late. 

Liverpool may end the season stuck like an unfortunate batsman on 99 – and it’s testament to this team that they’ll probably be disappointed with that. 

Liverpool boss Klopp looks on in anger as his side let their lead slip in the first period due to some uncharacteristic mistakes

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino dribbles while under pressure from Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka as they searched for a goal

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah reacts after missing a chance to get Liverpool back level and in the end it was to be a rare loss

Sportsmail’s KIERAN JACKSON provided live updates, team news and coverage of Arsenal vs Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

Host commentator

Well that’s your lot tonight, on a terrific evening for Arsenal – match report to follow!

Join us tomorrow evening for another batch of Premier League games… until then, goodnight!

Arsenal get over the line – and Liverpool’s hopes of a 100-point season are over! 

Sadio Mane opened the scoring for a Reds side coasting early on, but a mistake apiece from Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson gifted goals to Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson, turning the match on its head. 

And despite huffing and puffing in the second-half, Liverpool couldn’t find an equaliser!

Jurgen Klopp’s first ever loss to Arsenal as Liverpool manager! 

At the death, Origi commits a foul on Tierney, despite Shaqiri putting the ball into the net. 

And that should be that! 

And another Liverpool corner… Alexander-Arnold’s shot deflects just wide! Final corner of the night… 

Liverpool corner… 

Last roll of the dice for Liverpool… Van Dijk is now in the box… 

Ceballos in the book for a pretty reckless barge into Minamino. However, Liverpool completely waste the free-kick… 

A reminder that should they lose, Liverpool would only be able to achieve a maximum of 99 points… 

Chance for Arsenal to seal the three points!

The ball falls to Joe Willock at the back post, but he slices his shot wide when he really should have hit the target! 

Five minutes of added-time… 

Keita with an ambitious strike from outside the box, but its comfortable for Martinez. 

Approaching added-time… 

Big chance for Liverpool!

Robertson finds Mane down the left and in behind – Maitland-Niles does just enough to put Mane off as he squares down on goal, and he shoots into the side-netting! 

Sead Kolasinac comes on for Bukayo Saka with five to go. 

Liverpool look a tad out of ideas…

Double change for Liverpool – Xherdan Shaqiri (making his first appearance since January) and Divock Origi come on for a frustrated Mohamed Salah and Gini Wijnaldum. 

Not long left now for Liverpool to keep alive their hopes of a 100-point season. 

Booking for Xhaka, for a studs-up challenge on Naby Keita (though he does win the ball). 

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka stretches to intercept the ball, and is now down injured. 

Substitution for Arsenal – Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaces Cedric Soares. 

Robertson’s lofted ball to the back post finds Van Dijk rising, but he can’t get a clean contact on the ball and heads wide. 

And we’re back underway – can Arsenal see out the next 20 minutes or so? 

Later than usual, the mid-half drinks break. A well-deserved breather for the Arsenal players. 

Another chance comes and goes for Liverpool…

Mane’s cross is inch-perfect for Salah at the back post, who wasn’t expecting the ball to arrive seemingly, as his header is weak and straight at Martinez. 

Liverpool in full control, with the ball squirming into Minamino in the six-yard box but Tierney does just about enough to shield the ball away to Martinez. 

Arsenal are hanging on in there…

First involvement for Minamino, whose half-turn gives him an opening, but he pulls his left-footed shot wide of the goal. 

Liverpool, by the way, have had 15 shots. Arsenal? Two. Yet those two are the difference at the moment!

Double switch for Liverpool – Firmino and Oxlade-Chamberlain OFF, Minamino and Keita ON.

Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the box finds Gini Wijnaldum running in, but his header balloons over the bar…

Triple change for Arsenal – Torreira, Lacazette, Nelson OFF, Ceballos, Aubameyang, Willock ON.

Lacazette passes the captain’s armband over to Aubameyang. 

Great save from Martinez!

Alexander-Arnold gallops down the right to collect a diagonal ball, and his cut-back finds Salah in the penalty area. The Egyptian scoops a shot out from under his feet, and Martinez is sharp to tip the ball over the bar!

The champions pressing… 

Goalmouth scramble in the Arsenal box!

Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Firmino and Salah all have a pop in the penalty area, but credit to the Arsenal defenders for throwing themselves in front of the ball, eventually scrambling it clear for a corner which is cleared. 

Well, Trent Alexander-Arnold joins Torreira in the book. 

After his touch got away from him, the Liverpool right back was a tad late on Bukayo Saka. 

No sooner has the half started then Lucas Torreira is the first name in the book, for a needless late challenge on Joe Gomez. 

We’re back underway at the Emirates – no changes at the break!

Well for the first 30 minutes, it was plain sailing for Liverpool… 

Dominant with the ball, Sadio Mane gave the visitors a well-deserved lead. 

But Virgil Van Dijk’s pass straight to Alexandre Lacazette gifted Arsenal an equaliser and then Alisson’s poor pass out led to Reiss Nelson’s composed finish. 

Arsenal lead the champions at the interval!

Almost a very quick response from Liverpool, with Oxlade-Chamberlain warming the hands of Martinez with a shot from outside the box. 

Two minutes of added time at the end of the first half. 

Another Arsenal goal, another shocking Liverpool mistake!

This time it’s Allison with the clanger – his pass out from the back is well short of Andy Robertson. Lacazette nips in, plays in Reiss Nelson in the box whose finish is assured, tucked beautifully into the corner!

Jurgen Klopp looks bemused on the touchline – his two best signings have had absolute shockers in the first-half here! Arsenal have the lead!

Well, wasteful from Mo Salah this. 

Rob Holding squanders possession striding out from the back, and Firmino feeds in Salah on the right.

However, ignoring options around him, the Egyptian cuts in and shoots straight at Tierney – and the chance is gone!

Liverpool have lost their way slightly after conceding that cheap goal.. 

Pepe now much more involved in the game, while Liverpool now lacking their early-game incisiveness in attack. 

Can confirm, goals change games.

An gift from, of all people, Virgil Van Dijk!

The Liverpool centre back, always Mr Cool on the ball, this time… isn’t. His square ball is straight to Alexandre Lacazette, who rounds Alisson and strikes into an empty net to equalise for the Gunners!

Van Dijk protests a foul on him, but after a quick and unnecessary VAR check, the goal stands!

And out of nothing, Arsenal are level! Was Van Dijk watching Sead Kolasinac at the weekend? Uncannily similar errors… 

A glimmer of a chance for Nelson in behind Robertson, but the Liverpool left back does enough to win a goal-kick. 

Drinks break over, Salah has a half-chance from a cross out-wide, but his stabbed volley towards goal is straight at Martinez. 

All Liverpool here – has Arsenal’s £72m man Nicolas Pepe touched the ball yet? (I’m only half-joking…)

Time for a drink… Mikel Arteta certainly needs the time with his players. 

Well straight from kick-off, Reiss Nelson is wasteful in a promising position in the box for Arsenal, but he can’t find a team-mate. 

Then down the other end, Mane squeezes another shot on goal, which Martinez falls on comfortably. 

Arsenal – if we’re being honest – aren’t properly at the races yet. 

Simple but effective from the champions!

Firmino plays in Robertson on the overlap down the left, and his accurate pull-back in the post finds an onrushing Sadio Mane, who has a simple tap-in above Martinez!

Liverpool, with their first effort on goal, take the lead!

Liverpool keeping the ball in Arsenal territory here, without really making any headway – but the Gunners struggling to retain possession. 

The champions are prodding… 

Oh Emi Martinez you lucky, lucky boy!

With Firmino closing him down, the Arsenal keeper clears the ball straight into Firmino’s raised foot, and the ball ricochets off the outside of the post! 

Arsenal get away with one there…

Strange one that from the Reds – Alexander-Arnold leaves it for Robertson, and his lofted cross is easily collected by Martinez..

Clever from Sadio Mane, as he wins a foul five years outside the box, as Rob Holding clumsily commits himself… 

Liverpool have a corner of their own now…

Alewander-Arnold plays it short, and then crosses but Arsenal clear after about a minute of Liverpool keeping the ball. Comfortable for the Gunners. 

The corner routine is clever from Arsenal, but Cedric Soares’ free header at the back post can’t find a red shirt and Liverpool clear… 

After a few fireworks outside the ground (are Liverpool’s London fanbase in town?), Arsenal win the first corner of the game…

First opening for Andy Robertson down the left – his deflected cross almost finds Mo Salah at the back post, but Kieran Tierney clears!

Liverpool will kick us off – playing in their away grey kit – but only after all the players take a knee in opposition to racial prejudice.

  • Arsenal: Martinez, Holding, David Luiz, Tierney Soares, Xhaka, Torreira, Saka Pepe, Lacazette, Nelson
  • Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Mane, Firmino 

Liverpool like the capital. 

Four behind Jamie Vardy on 23. Three games to go.

– Jurgen Klopp has not lost to Arsenal whilst at Liverpool – a run of nine games in all competitions. 

– The Gunners have conceded 90 goals against Liverpool in the Premier League, a club record against a single opponent.

– Liverpool need to win their remaining three games to surpass Manchester City’s record of 100 Premier League points.

Jurgen Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports:

‘They could play the same system, 3-4-3, but we need a closer look. We will see, obviously a few changes. 

‘They’re a really strong side, especially on the counter-attack – very quick. I was really happy with the game [against Burnley] – we should have scored more but it was a good game for us and a good game for Burnley. 

Mikel Arteta, speaking to Sky Sports:

‘We made some changes, they deserve to play – the players in the starting XI. We need everybody. It’s about who’s in best condition to start the game today, and the balance. Players who deserve match-time. 

‘They always keep pushing in training, they are demanding, so here is the opportunity. 

– Man City 2-1 Bournemouth

– Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham 

– Burnley 1-1 Wolves

For the sixth game running, Mesut Ozil does not feature in the Arsenal matchday squad.

Back problem? Or simply out-of-favour? 

Both managers and captains have met out on the pitch ahead of kick-off.

Incidentally, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette and Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk are the captains tonight. 

Mo Salah stole the show back in August with two goals… 

He scored twice against the Gunners in August, and will be looking to mark his 150th appearance for the Reds with a goal or two tonight, as he ambitiously chases down Jamie Vardy at the top of the Golden Boot standings. 

Big news from Mikel Arteta’s side is that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is only on the bench… 

Arguably, Jurgen Klopp’s strongest team…

Two changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Burnley: youngsters Neco Williams and Curtis Jones drop out for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

If you want to keep updated with the 6pm KO’s in the Premier League, head over to our separate live commentary on: 

– Man City vs Bournemouth

– Newcastle vs Tottenham

– Burnley vs Wolves 

Welcome to Sportsmail’s live coverage of Arsenal vs Liverpool in the Premier League this evening!

We’ll have all the updates from the Emirates Stadium as both sides look to bounce back following disappointing results at the weekend, as the season approaches its climax. 

Kick-off is at 8:15 BST – team news in 15 minutes!

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