Arsenal pull off vital Liverpool win after rare gift but Arteta has three concerns | Football | Sport

Arsenal threw open the Premier League title race with a pulsating 3-1 victory over Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard scored in the second half with the Gunners now only two points behind the Reds, who had Ibrahima Konate sent off late on. Here are five things Express Sport took away from the game.

Liverpool duo gift Arsenal goal

With the game tightly poised heading into the final 20 minutes, calamity struck for Liverpool. A lack of communication better suited to Sunday League pitches saw Virgil van Dijk and Alisson fail to deal with a bouncing ball.

Alisson miscontrolled the ball, allowing Martinelli to stroke into an empty net. In a game punctuated by errors and lapses in concentration, it was the worst possible time for Liverpool’s most experienced players to fall below their usual standards.

Arsenal still lack discipline

Arsenal were in control of the first half and Liverpool had failed to have a shot on target. But somehow the Gunners headed in for half-time level.

William Saliba lost an aerial duel with Diogo Jota, with the Liverpool forward running in behind. Saliba’s failure to see the ball run through to David Raya allowed Jota to poke it away, with a poorly-positioned Gabriel turning the ball into his own net.

It was evidence of the lack of discipline that has cost Arsenal in big games such as these before. It was a concession of a goal entirely of Arsenal’s own making, and one that a maturer and more experienced side would not have allowed.

Ben White’s booking for time wasting after just half an hour was further proof of a team still developing its discipline. The same argument could be levelled at Liverpool, though, with Konate picking up a wholly avoidable second yellow card.

Arsenal’s concerning striker situation

Arsenal might not be the only team who have spent heavily over the last few years and still resorted to deploying Kai Havertz as a striker – Chelsea can attest to the frustration of the playmaker attempting to grapple with the responsibilities of a No. 9.

But to spend an estimated £400m since the summer of 2022 and not have a prolific striker speaks to a failure in recruitment. The Gunners have generally identified excellent signings, although they will not win the Premier League while they lack their own version of Erling Haaland or Mohamed Salah.

Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah have only nine Premier League goals between them this season. That Havertz was picked over Nketiah was particularly telling. Arteta might not admit it in public but he is desperate for a centre-forward.

Saka goes off injured

Bukayo Saka hobbled off with an injury that will worry Arteta. The Arsenal boss immediately substituted the winger, unwilling to take the risk of a serious issue.

Questions will arise over Arteta’s use of the England winger. Saka has missed only one Premier League game since May 6, 2021. Arsenal fans will anxiously wait for an update on their star player’s fitness.

Martinelli gets the better of Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool’s achilles heel continues to be their right-hand side. Trent Alexander-Arnold struggled against the movement and speed of Gabriel Martinelli.

After Saka had put the Gunners ahead, the England winger should have doubled his side’s lead after Martinelli advanced beyond Alexander-Arnold and crossed. The Liverpool right-back was fortunate that Saka failed to connect with his header.

It remains to be seen how Liverpool’s next manager will use Alexander-Arnold, whose substitution prior to the hour-mark was a damning indictment of his performance. A place in midfield seems ever likelier, especially after the emergence of Conor Bradley.

Arsenal’s victory will of course provide an immense confidence boost heading into the second half of the season. Arteta’s side have proven they can beat the in-form team in the country.

But there remained a sense that this was a battle between the second and third-best clubs. Manchester City have shown time and time again that they can go go up a gear and drastically improve as the season nears its finale – both Arsenal and Liverpool look a step behind the reigning champions.

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