Arsenal clinched a huge win in their hopes of sealing a Europa League spot next season, becoming just the third team this season to defeat Premier League champions Liverpool at the Emirates on Wednesday night as they made the most of errors from the title-winners.
Mikel Arteta shuffled his pack and made five changes to his team ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Manchester City with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dropping out of the side.
And Arsenal were resoundingly second best for the first half-an-hour of the first half as they struggled to put any passing sequences together, as the visitors took the lead through Sadio Mane.
But a rare Virgil van Dijk error allowed Alexandre Lacazette to level the scores on 32 minutes, before Lacazette turned from goalscorer to provider, pouncing on a poor Alisson pass out from the back and feeding Reiss Nelson to put Arsenal in front.
Liverpool dominated the ball after the break with the north London side forced to survive intense pressure – but they did exactly that, battling hard to claim a big three points and beat the Reds under Jurgen Klopp for the first time.
Here’s how Express Sport rated the Gunners for their hard-fought 2-1 win over the Merseyside outfit.
Arsenal player ratings vs Liverpool – Premier League
Emiliano Martinez – 7
Almost guilty of a major mistake as Firmino chased him down and his attempted clearance rebounded and struck the post. Couldn’t do much about the opening goal and later held Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strike well before the break. Reacted well to tip a Mohamed Salah shot from close ranger over the crossbar and then equal to Naby Keita’s long-range strike. Another good stop to prevent a deflected Trent Alexander-Arnold shot finding the corner. Makes it look easy.
Rob Holding – 7
Typically combative in the air and defended well given Liverpool regularly attacked down the left. Often the man to smash the ball clear of danger in the box. Ran himself into trouble in one instance, losing the ball to Fabinho, and he was fortunate Salah’s resulting shot was blocked. Had a fiery one-on-one battle with Mane throughout.
David Luiz – 5
Came running across to meet Robertson for the opening goal but failed to block the cross and consequently left a huge hole for Mane to score from close range. Comically sold by Salah inside the box when the winger should’ve scored. Fortunate substitute Takumi Minamino’s effort was dragged just wide after failing to close the Japan international quick enough. Kept a clean sheet yes, but Arsenal’s obvious weak spot.
Kieran Tierney – 8
Playing in a left-sided centre-back role but with license to get forward and played typically well defensively, getting one good block on a Salah shot. Didn’t have too much trouble against the Egyptian, which is testament to Tierney’s quality. Won a foul from Divock Origi right at the death to seal the win. Impressively reliable, the Scot.
Cedric Soares – 5
Endured a difficult evening, struggling up against the combination of Robertson and Mane and some questionable positioning. Well beaten in the air by Robertson in the build-up to the first goal. Unsurprisingly substituted off.
Granit Xhaka – 6
Saw far less of the ball than he’s used to but a cute lofted pass almost set up Nelson for a rare first-half chance. Got a good block on a close-range Salah effort in a goalmouth scramble in the second half and threw himself in the way a few times to prevent Martinez from having to do more work. Booked for a clumsy challenge on Keita.
Lucas Torreira – 6
Offered energy in the middle, albeit while chasing the ball for much of the game. Picked up a yellow early in the second half and brought off before the hour.
Bukayo Saka – 6
One of his quieter displays offensively as he was made to work hard off of the ball and didn’t see too much of it to trouble Liverpool’s back-line. Helped ensure Alexander-Arnold didn’t create too much down the right-hand flank.
Nicolas Pepe – 5
Intiailly lined up on the left rather than the right but barely involved and so moved around the front three. One opportunity to run after a wayward Fabinho pass but found himself outnumbered and then a bright second-half burst forward which eased some pressure. But otherwise too quiet, making just 11 passes all game and completing a little over half of the ones he attempted. Not entirely his fault, but not as impactful as he has more regularly has been under Arteta.
Alexandre Lacazette – 8
Frustrated and withut much of the ball until he scored Arsenal’s equaliser, rounding Alisson well to finish for his 10th league goal of the season. It was then the Frenchman who was alert to nip in and win the ball to set up Nelson’s strike. Two key contributions, even if he was on the fringes of the game otherwise.
Reiss Nelson – 8
Had a good chance on the break straight after Liverpool scored but his cross was blocked, but sharper when he then put the pressure on Van Dijk which forced Lacazette’s goal. Lovely side-footed finish to make it 2-1 shortly after. Great tracking back in the first half to prevent Robertson getting a clear shot at goal.
Joe Willock (on for Lacazette, min 57) – 5
Played almost as a false nine. Spent most of the match in his own half and spurned a late shot wide of the post.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (on for Nelson, min 58) – 5
Didn’t get much chance to attack but helped set up a Willock effort late on which the midfielder didn’t connect well enough with.
Dani Ceballos (on for Torreira, min 57) – 6
Rarely had the chance to play Arsenal forward. One key interception on Robertson inside the box. Unnecessary foul on Minamino earned him a yellow.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (on for Cedric, min 76) – 6
Helped Arsenal protect the three points although almost guilty of allowing Mane in on goal to score. Recovered well to force the Senegalese to fire wide.
Sead Kolasinac (on for Saka, min 85) – N/A
Offered an extra body at the back towards the end of the game.