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“Unexpected” slip but still in “good position” – Last word on Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool

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It was an uninspired showing from Liverpool as they suffered their second league defeat of the season at the hands of Arsenal, with no shortage of discussion points coming from it.

The Reds fell comfortably short of the brilliant form they have shown in recent weeks, with the Gunners coming away as deserving winners from a crucial top-of-the-table clash.

Culprits came from unlikely places and the title race is now wide open as the gap narrows at the top.

Adam Beattie (@beatts94) and Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) are here to provide some post-Arsenal therapy.

 

A frustrating way for the unbeaten run to end, what do you think caused the performance drop?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as his mistake leads to Arsenal's second goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: It came out of nowhere, really!

We’d managed to get ourselves into a great position pre-Christmas without really getting out of second gear, but since then we’ve started to properly click and it felt like this game was going to come just at the right time.

While we never deserved to get anything from the game, the timing and manner of the second goal killed us.

Arsenal looked a bit shaky after the break, but the boost that gave them was clear and it was an absolute gift from our point of view.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp consoles Harvey Elliott after the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: I agree with you there Adam, it did feel like it came out of the blue.

You can typically tell what kind of day we’re going to have by how we start a match, though, and the accuracy of our ball movement didn’t give me a great feeling early on.

It was almost a game too far after so many absences throughout the squad, we just looked tired physically and mentally – only need to look at those rare mistakes.

To get level before the break was hugely unexpected and it did give us a little boost when they came back out for the second half, so you do wonder if we’d been able to get anything from the game without those errors.

 

Did any players come away with credit for you?

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)

ADAM: Alexis Mac Allister was the business once again, he’s been massive for us in these last few weeks.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the manager does when we get Wataru Endo back, because Mac Allister has more than answered the questions about his capabilities at the base of the midfield.

Aside from that, not many of them, if I’m honest!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates his side's first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: It really is hard to look beyond Macca, isn’t it. He was a level above the rest and never stopped, he won a game-high 11 duels and created two chances himself.

If I was to mention another name it would probably be Luis Diaz. He created the goal and was the only spark in attack, just had to do a little better with his final ball when we had momentum early in the second half.

 

Did Klopp’s changes surprise you?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: I wouldn’t necessarily say I was surprised, I just think he didn’t get it right.

That right-side was hard to watch in the end, Cody Gakpo and Ryan Gravenberch seemed to be bypassed constantly and despite their large frames, they’re bullied off the ball so easily.

That lack of presence didn’t help the battle in the middle of the field and I feel we did lose something by not having Darwin Nunez from the start.

We’ve praised Jurgen for his in-game management a lot this season, but the substitutions were a bit perplexing here. They didn’t give us anything.

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

ADAM: It was a strange afternoon from the manager, but I’m certainly not interested in joining a queue to berate him.

I can actually see his logic behind the move to start Gakpo.

Nunez has played a lot of football recently and you hoped that Gakpo would provide a safe pair of hands in possession against one of the best sides in the league.

I didn’t have that much of a problem with Trent coming off, either. He was far from at the races and you could see early on that he was still feeling his way back from injury.

 

How much damage has that done in the title race?

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)

JO: I’m not overreacting at all. It is not ideal, but the fact this is only our second defeat and we’re in February speaks volumes.

We’re still in a good position and we would have all snapped at the chance to be where we are now if offered it at the start of the campaign.

I’m more interested in how we react now and making sure we pick up maximum points in the games to come. It was just a very bad day at the office and not symptomatic of any larger issues.

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

ADAM: I really don’t think it necessarily has to be the end of the world, as some might have you believe.

Teams lose football games and we’ve been fortunate not to lose too many this season, one stemming from a freakish refereeing performance and the other in our toughest fixture of the run-in.

The performance was arguably the toughest thing to take, but as long as we quickly brush it off and show it was nothing more than a blip I think we’ll be fine.