Liverpool came from behind to snatch a point against Premier League leaders, Arsenal in a pulsating game on Sunday at Anfield.
Mikel Arteta’s men were in cruise control in the first half after going in front in the 8th minute through Gabriel Martinelli. Gabriel Jesus added the second from his compatriot’s inch-perfect cross in the 28th minute, and it looked like the Gunners were going to earn their first win at Anfield since 2012, but Mohammed Salah’s goal just before the break brought the home side back into the tie.
Salah missed a penalty early in the second half but the pressure paid off when substitute Roberto Firmino scored the equaliser with his 11th goal against Arsenal in the 87th minute.
Aaron Ramsdale made late saves from Salah and Ibrahima Konate to earn Arsenal a point at Anfield.
The result means Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table is reduced to six points and the title race has taken a different twist because of Manchester City’s game in hand, and the Gunners now face the difficult task of going to Etihad before the end of this month in what may well be the fixture that decides who wins the title in May.
Let’s look at three things from the game.
1. Title race not yet over
It’s laughable when you listen to people say Arsenal’s title hopes are over because they drew at Anfield. Liverpool away has always been a difficult fixture for the Gunners, and it remains tricky for many teams in the Premier League. A point may be disappointing, but it is not the worst thing considering how the game panned out in the second half.
Manchester City were beaten at Anfield this season. Manchester United were battered there a few weeks ago, and it is only Leeds United who have managed to beat Liverpool at their backyard this season. The Reds are having a difficult campaign but remain formidable at home throughout the season.
I know Arsenal should have done better by not conceding in the first half, they were brilliant and looked miles better than their host, but football is about momentum and that swung the moment Granit Xhaka got stuck with Trent Alexander Arnold which disrupted the flow of the game and provoked the home crowd, and they responded by providing the needed impetus for their team.
For the title race, Arsenal are still leading City with six points despite the defending champions having a game in hand. The run-in looks tricky for the leaders with trips to Newcastle where they lost last season, and Manchester City where they’ve not won for a long time. So too is Man City. They have more games to play than Arsenal and that should stretch their limits. They are an experienced side but have not gone on a lengthy run this season. City have already won eight games in a row and will need to win the remaining nine to win the title, that’s herculean even by their own high standards.
2. Gabriel Jesus returns to scoring form
The result against Liverpool may have been disappointing for Arsenal, but seeing star striker Gabriel Jesus return to scoring form is delightful for the Gunners. Before his injury at the World Cup, the Brazilian did not score in eleven matches and looked desperate when he made his return from the knee injury against Fulham in the 3-0 comfortable win. He couldn’t find the net against Crystal Palace a week later but has scored in his last two appearances.
Against Leeds United, Jesus looked sharp and hungry and was looking for a hat-trick when he was subbed off in the second half. He added to his two goals last week with a goal against Liverpool to bring his season tally to eight goals in 18 appearances in the Premier League.
READ MORE: A Painful Point: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal
With Eddie Nketiah still injured, Mikel Arteta must be delighted to see Jesus score with such frequency. Despite Martinelli, Saka, Ødegaard, and even Xhaka chipping in goals, Arsenal will need Jesus and his goals to unlock tight defenses if they are to win the title in May.
3. Arsenal were lucky, but luck is part of winning titles
Let’s face it, Arsenal were lucky to leave Anfield with a point, but so too did Liverpool. The home side were completely played off the park in the first half, and the Gunners should have been out of sight. Jesus probably should have scored from a Saka cross which the Brazilian could not connect well, Martinelli’s brilliant run and subsequent cross to Saka was blocked by the Liverpool defense. After Liverpool’s equaliser, Arsenal had the chance on the break with Martinelli who tried to find Saka but his pass was not accurate which allowed Allison to clear.
At the other end, Ramsdale was the hero with big saves. First, the Arsenal goalkeeper was brilliant in a one on one situation against Darwin Nunez. The Uruguayan could have done better but credit to Ramsdale. He also made an outstanding save, tipping Sala’s curler which was heading towards goal to safety before capping it off with a fantastic goal line stop to deny Konate from snatching victory for the home side.
Ofcourse, Arsenal were lucky that Salah missed his penalty, but the penalty itself was cheap and generous from the referee. In the past ten seasons, Chelsea needed won the league with one points; Man City won in 2012 with goal difference; In 2014 City won with 2 points; In 2016 Leicester City were lucky to be champions; In 2019 City won with 1 point; last season City needed luck to come from behind to beat Aston Villa on final day to lift the trophy.
If Arsenal were lucky enough, they would have been 12 to 15 points clear of City if officiating decisions went their way. This young squad will need the luck to finish off an incredible season with a title.
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