Liverpool defended like a pub team, says Sky Sports’ Roy Keane, as Virgil Van Dijk takes “full responsibility” for his error which led to Arsenal’s second goal.
The Reds were beaten 3-1 at the Emirates to cut their lead at the top of the Premier League to two points.
Liverpool were architects of their own downfall at times, especially for Gabriel Martinelli’s second-half goal when Van Dijk and Alisson’s mistakes allowed him to score.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were unable to recover from that moment – questionable defending allowing Leandro Trossard to score an Arsenal third – and Keane was critical of their defensive performance.
“In terms of the intensity from the first whistle to the last whistle from Liverpool, I can’t believe how bad they were,” he said on Super Sunday.
“Credit to Arsenal, they turned up and were at it. But Liverpool defensively, the goals they gave away – it was like a pub team defending.
“Defenders are making the game complicated now. Just head that ball – it really is straightforward.
“We like players being laid back and casual, but I don’t. Switch on, smell the danger, head the ball. At centre-half, if in doubt, head the ball.
“I was disappointed with what Liverpool did today, but if you step back, it’s their second defeat [of the Premier League season]. I’m pretty sure they’ll react because they’re a top-quality side, but we expected more today.
“Instead of maybe being too critical of Liverpool, as poor as they were, we have to give that bit of credit to Arsenal. Maybe because they had to win it, they wanted it more.”
Neville: Mistake summed up Liverpool
Sky Sports‘ Gary Neville on Martinelli goal:
“When the goalkeeper is coming out, he’s got a far better sight of it. He has to make contact and clear everything. It was so surprising to see two world-class players make such a mistake.
“They’ve been outstanding all season, Alisson and Van Dijk, so they’re allowed one. Today, it summed up Liverpool.
“That edge wasn’t there. When you’re told Arsenal could be out of the title race and you can go eight points clear, Arsenal had that little bit more intensity.
“Sometimes, you can’t quite describe it as a player but you’re missing that little bit extra in your game. When you don’t, you get found out and Arsenal have got their rewards today for being a little bit more up for it than Liverpool were.”
Van Dijk: My wrong decision hurts
After the game, Van Dijk recognised the mistake he had made, telling Sky Sports: “It was a tough day.
“I take full responsibility for the 2-1 [goal] and that’s a big turning point in the game. I should have done better and made a better decision there.
“It hurts for me and it hurts for the rest of the team. Especially for me. After the break, we were so good and had opportunities. We were dominant and the atmosphere here became more nervous.
“The turning point was my responsibility. I should have just cleared it. When you make the wrong decision in a split second, these things happen in football.
“These things don’t happen too many times in my career but it’s a tough one. I will recover from it and learn from things that don’t go well.
“But I will take responsibility.”
Carra: Schoolboy error from Van Dijk
It was another scathing assessment from former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher. He added while Van Dijk and Alisson have often inspired Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table, they were at fault on Sunday.
“[For the Arsenal second goal] Van Dijk just has to head it. Don’t let it bounce. We’re talking schoolboy stuff here. We’re talking about players at the top level. This is something you learn at the bottom level of football,” he said on Super Sunday.
“Martinelli nudges him slightly into the goalkeeper which puts Alisson off slightly but Martinelli is well within his rights to knock them and clash them together.
Carra: Liverpool played into Arsenal’s hands
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on Super Sunday:
“I wasn’t surprised by Arsenal and how they came at Liverpool in the first half as they almost had to win this game. It had become desperate for them to get back into the race.
“I was watching Liverpool thinking they should just get it into their front players in the first 15 minutes. Not worry about playing the modern football, playing it around the back, but it just played into Arsenal’s hands.”
“There’s always a chance of that happening if you let the ball bounce.
“There are very few weaknesses in Van Dijk’s game but one of them is he has a tendency to hold his position too much.
“Van Dijk and Alisson have been brilliant this season, it’s one of the reasons why they’re back but that was a howler.
“Van Dijk is involved in all three goals and has made poor decisions. On the first goal, he’s stepped in when he should have just stayed where he was, on the second he should have head it and for the third he should have come across.”
Klopp: A lot of things went against us
Liverpool finished the game with 10 players after Ibrahima Konate was sent off for two yellow cards.
Klopp questioned the decision, telling Sky Sports: “A lot of things were against us today. This referee gave me a red card against Man City for wrestling situation between Bernardo Silva and Mo Salah. Today, same situation with Jota but didn’t get a red card.
“It is unbelievable, then the of holding Havertz on Konate for the first yellow card. Then Havertz goes down and the referee gives Konate a yellow card.
“Gabriel does the same to Nunez and no yellow card.”
Before the game, Klopp admitted Nunez was a doubt, and he began the game on the bench, with fellow forward Mohamed Salah also absent having yet to return from the Africa Cup of Nations.
When asked if leaving Nunez on the bench was a mistake, Klopp added: “Maybe. But I understand it.
“We did not play enough football. We were not involved in the game enough, we wanted Trent more on the wing.
“Would I do it again like that? Yes.”
Arteta: It feels like a big win
For Arsenal manager Arteta, he was understandably pleased how his team navigated a sometimes difficult game to launch themselves back into title contention.
He told Sky Sports: “Especially with the performance we had in the first half and the chances we created, the way we conceded was painful.
“We could not feel sorry for ourselves, we needed to react and there was a lot to play for and we went out and suffered a bit.
“They were attacking open spaces and that is a bad thing to concede against them. They changed their shape and we had to bring a player inside.
“Basically the message was there wads going to be difficult moments and we had to navigate through them moments.
“We were ruthless when we had a chance and it feels like a big win. It gives us momentum [in the title race] and the way we have done it we are back on it – really excited.”
Neville: FT celebrations more out of relief
There were scenes of wild celebration from Arsenal fans and players alike at full-time, but Gary Neville said it did not look like a team who thought they would win the league.
The Sky Sports pundit explained: “The celebrations from Arsenal at the end weren’t of a team who thought they are going to go on and win the title. They were of a team who didn’t want to be out of a title race.
“That was the relief that we saw at the end. I think Arsenal, when I watch them, are a better team than Liverpool but Liverpool are more ruthless in the final third.
“I said at the start of the season that Arsenal would win the league, but it might cost them at the end. There are so many signs and so many examples of Arsenal not having that killer instinct in that part of the pitch.
“At some point, that’s going to hurt them. For me, they’re a really well-coached team, their way of play is good but that really important last bit… Liverpool have got so much threat and in the end I think that will be a problem.”