Premier League • England

Brave Klopp masterstroke helps Liverpool flatten Arsenal resistance to go breathing down Man City necks

Diogo Jota, Arsenal v Liverpool March 2022

A brave double substitution from Jurgen Klopp proved to be a masterstroke as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 to close in on Manchester City.

The Reds knew that victory in London would move them to within a point of the Premier League leaders. Arsenal, meanwhile, were looking to prove their credentials and cement their top-four place.

And the Gunners made it tough for Liverpool in the first 45 minutes. They looked organised in midfield and posed the bigger threat in attack.

However, there was no stopping the visitors after the break. Diogo Jota scored a seemingly typical goal against Arsenal and then immediately came off.

Indeed, Reds boss Klopp stuck to his guns and brought on Roberto Firmino, who neatly flicked in the second. Liverpool play next before City and can subsequently go two points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had a shaky start as he flapped at a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross. However, he recovered immediately to tip Virgil van Dijk’s header just wide.

Arsenal attacked from both flanks, but Gabriel Martinelli had more success against Alexander-Arnold down the left than Bukayo Saka did against Andy Robertson down the right.

In fact, Martinelli was the Gunners’ star man in the first half and beat Alexander-Arnold on a number of occasions. Still, his and Arsenal’s final ball lacked.

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Up the other end, the story was the same for Liverpool. Sadio Mane started on the right ahead of Mohamed Salah, whose foot problem kept him on the bench.

But even after Mane and Luis Diaz switched, the balls from Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Thiago Alcantara by and large lacked threat. Van Dijk’s header from a corner remained Liverpool’s best first-half chance after Mane skied from Alexander-Arnold’s ball over the top.

As for Arsenal attempts, Cedric Soares and Granit Xhaka both had attempts which did not trouble Alisson Becker.

Mikel Arteta’s hosts impressed in the midfield battle, with Thomas Partey tackling well and Alexandre Lacazette dropping back to press.

Liverpool break Arsenal resistance

Diogo Jota, Arsenal v Liverpool March 2022

Both sides were fast out of the blocks. Mane scored but was offside, before Alisson came to the rescue for Liverpool. Lacazette stole in on Thiago’s woeful pass back to the stopper and laid it to Martin Odegaard, who could not beat the sprawling Brazilian.

However, Thiago made amends with the assist for Jota’s opener. The pass was well-timed and set the Portuguese away to beat Ramsdale, who should have done better at his near post.

Jota came off immediately after his goal and Klopp’s introduction of Firmino proved to be a masterstroke.

The Brazilian pressed before crossing and creating a goalmouth scramble which Arsenal eventually cleared. However, Robertson did excellently to keep it alive amid a challenge with Saka.

And Firmino stayed alive in the box to flick home the Scot’s cross to put Liverpool firmly in the driving seat.

Reds control tempo for massive win

Liverpool then had all the control and played the game at their tempo.

Lacazette and Odegaard got in shortly after Firmino’s goal, but Joel Matip blocked well on both occasions.

Lacazette came off as Arteta threw on a fresh striker in Eddie Nketiah. Still, Martinelli came closest in the second half for the Gunners, curling a shot from the left just wide.

But the Gunners could not get past Matip and Van Dijk as Liverpool kept a third clean sheet of the season against Arsenal.

The result kept Arteta’s side fifth with two more games in hand on fourth-placed Manchester United, who are a point behind.