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  • By Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal come up short against top three side once more as Liverpool inflict more pain

Arsenal (0) 0

Liverpool (0) 2 Jota 54, Firmino 62

Diogo Jota – the man whose double wrecked Arsenal’s League Cup semi-final a few weeks ago – rifled in the goal which set Liverpool up for a league double over the Gunners.

The goal knocked Arsenal out of the impressive stride they had established and not long after, any hopes of a recovery were all-but snuffed out when Roberto Firmino touched home an Andy Robertson cross from the left byline.

Firmino had just come off the bench alongside Mo Salah as Jota was withdrawn immediately after breaking the deadlock.

From nowhere, having hardly featured as an attacking force up to that point, the Reds had the points to pile more pressure on Pep Guardiola’s Man City team – who dropped points at Palace on Monday.

Once again, for all the obvious improvement at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are still finding it difficult to land a blow on the three teams above them. That’s five defeats out of five against Liverpool, City and Chelsea.

The opener was a calamity for the normally excellent Aaron Ramsdale. The keeper was badly at fault for being beaten at his near post from an angle.

The stopper had suggested it might be a good night for him in the opening stages when he dived low to his left to keep out a Virgil Van Dijk header from an Alexander-Arnold corner.

And Arsenal as a whole impressed in the first half, albeit without making any big chances. They pressed well and broke smartly, using the guile of Gabriel Martinelli to good effect and enjoyed a strong midfield presence in Thomas Partey.

They also came so close to profiting from a gift early in the second half, as a stray backpass to Alisson from Thiago Silva was pounced on by the lurking Alexandre Lacazette.

The striker kept his cool and rolled the ball back for Martin Odegaard, but Liverpool’s keeper thrust up an arm to send the final shot skywards.

Moments later and Thiago made amends by threading a ball into the inside-left channel for Jota to race onto and fire past Ramsdale and in no time it was 2-0, with the game effectively over.

Mikel Arteta sent on Emile Smith Rowe for Odegaard – who was unable to reproduce the sparkling display he turned in against Leicester on Sunday. Bukayo Saka, taken off for the final quarter, had a subdued night.

There was a nice curling effort from Martinelli late on but in did not bend enough to find the inside of the far post and a comeback never looked on the cards.

With Spurs winning 2-0 at Brighton, the race for fourth place gets even closer. Arsenal’s lead over their north London rivals and West Ham is down to three points, although they still have a game in hand over Spurs and two over the Hammers.

The Gunners remain a point above fifth-placed Man United and have two games in hand over them.

For Liverpool, the ambition simply grows and grows. They are now breathing down the necks of leaders Man City – one single point now separating the two teams.

Gunners: (4-2-3-1) Ramsdale – Soares, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka (Pepe 74), Odegaard (Smith Rowe 67), Martinelli – Lacazette (Nketiah 80). Subs not used: Leno, Holding, Tavares, Sambi Lokonga, Elneny, Swanson

Reds: (4-3-3) Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago (Jones 89) – Diaz (Salah 56), Jota (Firmino 56), Mane. Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino


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