London, Jul 15 (efe-epa).- Liverpool’s bid to break – or at least tie – Manchester City’s record for the most points in a Premier League season ended here Wednesday in a 2-1 away loss to Arsenal.
The Reds were done in by their own defensive mistakes in the behind-closed-doors contest at Emirates Stadium, showing once again that they are a different team since clinching their first English-league title in 30 years on June 25.
The champions struck first when an unmarked Sadio Mane scored off a cross from Andrew Robertson in the 20th minute.
But the Gunners, who initially appeared to be looking ahead to their Saturday FA Cup semifinal contest against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, got back into the game courtesy of a blunder by Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutch star center-back first dallied on the ball and then inadvertently back-passed it to Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, who skirted around Liverpool goalie Alisson before booting home the 1-1 equalizer in the 32nd minute.
Arsenal then took their first lead of the game shortly before halftime thanks to a poor clearance by the Reds’ net minder, who got too cute with an attempted pass to Robertson.
Lacazette once again was in the right place at the right time and dished off to Reiss Nelson, who snuck his shot into the bottom left of the goal in the 44th minute to make the score 2-1.
Liverpool pressed forward in the second half in search of the tying goal and had two good chances that star striker Mohamed Salah was unable to convert.
The first of those opportunities came in the 54th minute, when the Egyptian maneuvered around defender David Luiz before chipping a lofted shot that Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez did well to tip over the crossbar.
Salah also had a chance on a header in the 70th minute but sent the shot straight at the Gunners’ keeper.
Afterward, Van Dijk rued the two first-half defensive mistakes.
“Obviously if you give the goals away like this, like we did today, including myself, then you get what you deserve,” the Dutchman was quoted as saying on Liverpool’s Twitter account.
The Reds, who were routed 4-0 by Manchester City earlier this month, are stuck on 93 points with just two games remaining after suffering just their third loss of the season.
They now have no chance of equaling or bettering the record tally of 100 points set two years ago by the Citizens, who became the first club in Premier League history to achieve that feat.
Ninth-place Arsenal, for their part, now trail the Wolverhampton Wanderers by just three points in their bid for one of the Premier League’s two 2020-2021 Europa League berths.
The Wolves had to settle for just one point on Wednesday when they gave up a penalty late in second-half injury time in a 1-1 draw versus Burnley.
Second-place Manchester City – whose two-year Champions League ban for breaching financial fair play regulations was overturned Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport – notched a 2-1 win over Bournemouth, who are 18th and appear headed for relegation to England’s second division.
In one other game on Wednesday, seventh-place Tottenham – who also are in the hunt for a spot in Europe next season and were helped by the Wolves’ draw – defeated 13th-place Newcastle United 3-1. EFE-EPA