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Mistakes, selection gamble & perspective – 5 talking points from Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool

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Liverpool’s Premier League title push was dealt a blow as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, with uncharacteristic mistakes proving decisive.

Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool

Premier League (23), Emirates Stadium
February 4, 2024

Goals: Saka 14′, Martinelli 67′, Trossard 90+1′; Gabriel OG 45+1′


Defeat disappointing but not decisive

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister looks dejected as Arsenal score the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If either side had more riding on this meeting, it was without doubt an Arsenal team that could have found themselves eight points adrift of top spot with defeat.

And Liverpool must remember that as they lick their wounds following just a second Premier League loss of the season so far.

They may have missed a chance to effectively put the Gunners out of the race, but the Reds remain at the summit going into the business end of the campaign and two points ahead of today’s opponents.

The key to making the most of that position will be how they react to this setback, with another unbeaten run required to propel them to glory in May.

 

Rare errors undermine Reds

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He may hate losing, but you imagine Jurgen Klopp won’t be calling for an inquest regarding the manner of Liverpool’s defeat here.

A lightning Arsenal start aside, this did not feel like a game where the Reds were being consistently taken apart en route to zero points, even if they weren’t at their best.

And it is only fair to acknowledge that, sometimes, these sorts of performances are the best you can hope for from a difficult trip to a fellow title challenger, particularly when the stakes are so high for them.

Ultimately, the decisive moment coming courtesy of an uncharacteristic mix-up between Alisson and Virgil van Dijk is not something you can mitigate for, or that is likely to be repeated.

As such, Klopp’s players would be best advised to simply write this off as a bad day at the office and ensure they quickly get back to winning ways.

 

Konate needlessly foolish in final stages

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté reacts to a red card after Arsenal's Arsenal's Kai Havertz deliberately ran into him to get him sent off during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If there was one moment that will have truly vexed the manager during this game, it will surely have been Ibrahima Konate‘s decision making around his late red card.

Liverpool had cover in that situation and, even if they had not, were not desperately protecting a lead that could have given them a decisive advantage in the title race.

For that reason, the foul that brought the Frenchman a second yellow card and a one-match suspension as a result looked a foolish one.

Konate will now have time to think on that moment of madness as he spends the upcoming clash with Burnley in the stands.

 

Gakpo gamble fails to pay off

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool players form a pre-match huddle before the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Eyebrows were raised when Klopp revealed in one pre-match interview that his selection of Cody Gakpo ahead of Darwin Nunez was a tactical decision.

And, after the Dutchman failed to make an impact during his 58 minutes on the pitch, the manager will no doubt feel this is a call that did not pay off.

Gakpo managed just one shot, completed six out of 11 attempted passes, and made just two defensive actions in nearly an hour.

Klopp will likely look back on the decision to pick him ahead of the in-form Nunez as a mistake.

 

Imminent squad boosts could not be more timely

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It should not be forgotten that Liverpool added to a lengthy list of absentees ahead of this game when it emerged that Conor Bradley and Dominik Szoboszlai would not be available.

But, with this chastening afternoon out of the way, there is hope that things will look a lot brighter for the Reds by the time next weekend’s game against Burnley comes around.

Wataru Endo is guaranteed to be back, while Szoboszlai has a chance should a slight recurrence of a hamstring injury prove not to be serious.

And, with a bit of luck, both Kostas Tsimikas and Mohamed Salah could even provide a further boost to a squad that has now welcomed Thiago back.

That extra energy and quality will be key to getting back on track and ensuring Liverpool can continue to challenge on four fronts going forward.