Liverpool had dominated the Premier League this season and finally ended their 30-year wait to be crowned the champions of England again.
While their chances of winning the league title were never in doubt, Liverpool, in fact, sealed the deal with seven games remaining, the Reds also had a chance to set a new Premier League points record.
But they missed out on the chance to break or equal Manchester City’s record 100-point tally, after slipping up royally at the Emirates on Wednesday evening.
The Merseyside giants, who will be presented with the Premier League trophy after their final home game against Chelsea next Wednesday, couldn’t finish on the winning side in north London as two neat finishes by Alexander Lacazette and Reiss Nelson saw the Gunners beat the champions 2-1.
Unlike the defeat at Tottenham, Arsenal, this time, came from behind after Sadio Mane broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Often guilty of fluffing chances, the Gunners were right on the money on Wednesday as they scored from their first two shots at goal.
Who said what after Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal
Asked to share his thoughts on the game, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said,
“We’re all human. I cannot make a negative out of something so positive, becoming champions so early in the season. These boys have played an exceptional season and no one can take that away from them.”
Very true, indeed, but the Reds missed a golden opportunity to break or equal Manchester City’s record of logging a 100 points in a single season, a somewhat of a dull end to their flying campaign.
Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s defensive stalwart, had an unusually forgettable game against Arsenal.
Trying to thwart Reiss Nelson on the edge of the penalty area, the Dutchman tried a backpass which was intercepted by Alexandre Lacazette, who rounded off Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson to coolly tap it home and make it 1-1.
Reflecting on his miss pass, Van Dijk said,
“The goals we gave them were a present. Until the first goal it was totally us and we were dominant. But if you give goals like that away, including myself, you get what you deserve.”
Before the coronavirus-enforced break, Liverpool hardly dropped points, but things are different since the restart.
If the 4-0 loss to Manchester City and the 1-1 draw against Burnley were warnings, the slip-up at the Emirates pointed to a loss of focus and zeal to carry the winning momentum forward.
However, Van Dijk seemed to differ by saying,
“We can’t blame it on the fact that we are already champions. We’ll try to win the last two games and then get a well-deserved break. We’ve had a fantastic season.”
Not one to boast about the win as Arsenal are ninth on the Premier League table, Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta said he was unsure if he would get the funds required to continue his ‘rebuilding project’ at the Emirates and that was his “big concern”.
Asked if he had been assured of funds to rebuild the side, Arteta said,
“I don’t know. (It is) a big concern. You know, you just have to see how they build these squads.”
Underlining the importance of having quality players in the squad to compete in the Premier League, Arteta said,
“There is no magic, you need to improve with quality, quality players in the squad. And you need bigger squads to compete in this competition and this is the challenge.”
Quizzed whether his task was similar to Arsene Wenger’s when he took the job 24 years ago, the Spaniard replied,
“I think the context is different. I think the competition in the country is much harder than it was before. Arsene did some incredible things, brought some new ideas, a new philosophy to the country and was very successful.”
However, the loss takes nothing away from Liverpool. It has well and truly been their season and a defeat or two on the road can’t take that away.