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Virgil van Dijk says he was to blame and NOT Alisson for ‘turning point’ that saw Liverpool crash to Arsenal defeat

VIRGIL VAN DIJK took the blame for a shocking defensive cock-up as  Arsenal blew the title race wide open.

Gabriel Martinelli capitalised on a calamitous mix-up between Liverpool skipper Van Dijk and keeper Alisson to fire the Gunners 2-1 ahead at the Emirates.

Curtis Jones, left, reflects with Virgil van Dijk and keeper Alisson Becker after the howler that let in Gabriel Martinelli to restore Arsenal's lead

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Curtis Jones, left, reflects with Virgil van Dijk and keeper Alisson Becker after the howler that let in Gabriel Martinelli to restore Arsenal’s leadCredit: PA
Martinelli, left, had a simple chance to make it 2-1 in the Gunners' 3-1 victory after confusion between Liverpool duo Alisson and Van Dijk

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Martinelli, left, had a simple chance to make it 2-1 in the Gunners’ 3-1 victory after confusion between Liverpool duo Alisson and Van DijkCredit: PA

Alisson also blundered when substitute Leandro Trossard put the ball through his legs for Arsenal’s third — leaving Mikel Arteta’s men two points behind Liverpool at the summit.

Champions Manchester City,  who travel to Brentford on Monday night, will go top if they win their two games in hand.

And Van Dijk said after Sunday’s 3-1 loss: “It’s a very tough day. I  take full responsibility for Martinelli’s goal as that was a turning point in the match and I should have done better.

“It’s a split decision and I chose to let the ball bounce, try and put my body in between, Alisson touched me a little bit and that’s why he couldn’t clear it properly.

“It hurts and it hurts for the rest of the team — but especially for me. It was a big turning point.

“These things have not happened too many times in my career but I will recover  as I learn from things that don’t go well.”

Liverpool, reduced to ten men with an 88th-minute red for Ibrahima Konate, suffered just their second league defeat this season.

Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp, who is quitting at the end of this season, refused  to criticise Van Dijk and Alisson.

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He said: “Our main guys had a misunderstanding. They’re human beings.”

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring before Gabriel’s bizarre own goal following an error by William Saliba saw Liverpool level on the stroke of half-time.

But the Reds’  mistakes — with pundit Roy Keane saying the  defending was like  a ‘pub team’ —   ended their 21-match domestic unbeaten run.

Klopp added: “We would have loved to win here but we were not good enough.

“But today, nobody celebrates as champions and nobody is relegated. We have time to create our own destiny.

“At the end  I didn’t think for a second about the number of games left for City. I am not nervous. We expect them always to win their games.”

Arsenal have won three Prem games on the bounce, lifting them  into second, and Arteta hailed his players for a season-defining triumph.

Asked if they now have the mentality to win the title, Arteta said: “Absolutely. We have shown that today against the most  in-form team in Europe.

“To be the best and have the best mentality, you have to do it every three days. That is the challenge that we have.

“It was a huge game that was going to  dictate where we  are and where we’re going to be.”

And midfielder Declan Rice added: “We knew the importance of the game.

“We’ve got ourselves back on track.”

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