Arsenal kept their European hopes alive with a dramatic first-half comeback as they battled back to hand Liverpool a surprise 2-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Sadio Mane’s early strike looked to have set the tone for the evening, but goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson ensured Arsenal claimed the first win in 10 games against the Premier League champions.
Mikel Arteta opted for rotation with one eye on this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Manchester City, with Reiss Nelson replacing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in one of five changes for the Gunners.
Jurgen Klopp brought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold back into the side after a 1-1 draw with Burnley last time out, while Virgil Van Dijk took the armband with Jordan Henderson to miss the remainder of the season through injury.
The home side were lucky not to be behind early on after a dallying Emi Martinez cannoned the ball straight into a charging Roberto Firmino – but the ball rebounded off the post and out for a goal kick.
Liverpool were in front before the first drinks break, however, Mane tapping home after Andy Robertson’s low cross evaded David Luiz and Rob Holding at the back.
But an uncharacteristic Van Dijk howler allowed the home side to level. The Dutch defender failed to see Lacazette as he complacently passed back to Alisson Becker while under pressure from Nelson, with the Frenchman capitalising to round the keeper and slot home.
It was then Alisson’s turn to provide a costly mistake, as Lacazette (yes, again) was alert to intercept his lackadaisical pass to Robertson before squaring to Nelson, who controlled, steadied himself and fired into the far corner.
Liverpool regained control following the break and pushed for an equaliser, with Mane and substitute Takumi Minamino threatening for the visitors in particular.
But Arsenal stood firm, showing some real defensive resolve as they held out for the win.
A crucial three points keep Arsenal alive and fighting in the race for a European place, elevating them to ninth place, just three points off sixth-placed Wolves – who held to a draw by Burnley earlier in the evening.
Defeat for Liverpool means they can no longer beat Manchester City’s record total of 100 Premier League points in a single campaign, with their somewhat flat run since the restart continuing.
The win for the Gunners was the first in the Premier League since April 2015 while the defeat was also Jurgen Klopp’s first that he suffered against the Gunners in the competition after five wins and three draws
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