Liverpool have been average or it would be better to say, they have been below-par since Premier League returned after the break. The title has been confirmed, but what happened after that is, the whole unit still has not overcome the hangover – that killer instinct and the will to fight until the end has taken a major setback.
Despite dominating against Arsenal, two uncharacteristic errors from Jurgen Klopp’s side ended their hopes of reaching 100 points for the season – A Virgil van Dijk howler, an Alisson Becker error and there were evidence of rustiness among the Reds, which don’t with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Liverpool’s latest shot at history is gone. Jurgen Klopp’s side surrendered their chance of a record top-flight points total with a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Their third loss of the season means they now cannot beat or even equal Manchester City’s record of 100 points, set in 2017-18.
Liverpool were in full control when Sadio Mane fired them into a 20th-minute lead. They had started brightly, dominating proceedings against a side which had rested at least four starters with an eye on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against City.
Virgil “better than Ramos” Van Dijk with the assist for Lacazete’s goal pic.twitter.com/ZTsAwWMHA4
— Jeff (@JdristaJr) July 15, 2020
Then Van Dijk dallied, Reiss Nelson pressed and Alexandre Lacazette profited – Arsenal, from nowhere, equalized.
If that was a surprise, then so was what came next.
Only thing that would've happened if Alisson started instead of Adrian at Anfield is that Atleti would've won before Extra Time. pic.twitter.com/7DZxvf3nUw
— AU 🔱 (@parteyismo) July 15, 2020
Receiving a throw-in from Andy Robertson, Alisson left his return pass horribly short. Lacazette found Nelson, who found the corner. The Gunners had two shots in the first half and scored twice.
In fact, they only had three in the entire 90 minutes. Liverpool had 23.
Emiliano Martinez’s save % after the game vs LFC tonight is now at 82%
Obviously a smaller sample size of 7 games for Martinez, but that is the highest save % of any GK in the Premier League this season (Lloris 79%, Henderson 77%, Alisson 74%, Schmeichel 72%) pic.twitter.com/iOIHiRciDv
— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) July 15, 2020
Liverpool went behind having scored first for the first time since December 2016, when Loris Karius was in goal and Ragnar Klavan finished at center-back. They had not dropped a single point from a winning position prior to Saturday; now they have dropped five in the space of four days.
Alisson and Van Dijk have been the rocks upon which Liverpool’s success has been built, but even the best can short-circuit from time to time – such strange things happened after the confirmation of the title and the fans would be satisfied with that.
Have Liverpool entered the transition phase too early? Has the wheel completed its circle in five years? Are the Reds undone by the stress of COVID-19 and securing the title?
Only Klopp knows the answer and surely, he has plenty to ponder ahead of the next season.