Arsenal show Premier League title strain under Anfield spotlight

Arsenal’s failure to end their Anfield hoodoo by throwing away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 away to Liverpool on Sunday has opened the door for Manchester City to snatch the Premier League title away from the Gunners.

Mikel Arteta’s men still lead by six points at the top of the table, but for the first time in nearly two months City have the destiny of the title back in their own hands.

City have nine league games remaining to Arsenal’s eight and home advantage when the two sides meet at the Etihad on April 26.

Since losing to City in mid-February, Arsenal have belied their relative lack of experience in a title tussle.

A run of seven consecutive league victories contained the mixture of late winners and routine wins sprinkled with dazzling football that champions are made of.

However, they finally came unstuck when put under the pressure of an Anfield crowd baying for blood after a difficult season for Liverpool.

Arteta warned ahead of the game he expected to face a “jungle” of an atmosphere at a stadium where Arsenal have still not won in the league since their manager was patrolling the midfield in 2012.

Yet for 35 minutes, the visitors showed why Liverpool’s league position of eighth in the table does not lie.

Arsenal scored twice through Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus and could have had more but for wayward finishing by Jesus and a fine save from Alisson Becker to deny Oleksandr Zinchenko.

“We started the game exceptionally well, dominated it, and took the game where we wanted,” said Arteta.

“Scored the first one, and continued to play the way we wanted. We scored the second one and that was a moment to kill the game. And yet, before half-time, we gave them hope.”

Mohamed Salah’s strike just before the break flipped the momentum of the game and despite the Egyptian then missing a penalty early in the second-half, Arsenal were incapable of turning the tide.

Wave upon wave of Liverpool attack after the break was finally rewarded when Roberto Firmino headed in three minutes from time.

The drama did not end there as Aaron Ramsdale produced miracles in the Arsenal goal just to salvage a point.

“We gave every single ball away, especially in very dangerous areas when you allow open spaces in big transition moments against the best team in the world doing that,” added Arteta.

“When that happens, it’s chaos. It’s a lot of balls in your box, it’s difficult to get out of those situations and then you have to suffer.”

Arsenal’s second-half retreat does not bode well for more tough tests to come on the road in the coming weeks.

As well as their trip to City, Arsenal also have to travel to third-placed Newcastle.

Avoid defeat at the Etihad in 17 days’ time and the title is very much still Arsenal’s to lose.

But on a day when Liverpool’s outside shot at a top-four finish was realistically killed off, City were the big winners.


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