LONDON: Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s “mercilessness” as they recorded a vital 3-1 win over Premier League leaders Liverpool earlier this morning that helped brighten their championship-chasing chances.
Arteta’s second-placed side narrowed the gap to two points against Liverpool following a dynamic performance at the Emirates Stadium and helped by a misunderstanding between Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and defender Virgil van Dijk.
After taking the lead through Bukayo Saka’s early goal, Arsenal were tied again at the end of the first half through Gabriel Magalhaes’ own goal.
But Liverpool awarded Arsenal victory after the break when Alisson rushed out of his area to handle a long pass and failed to touch the ball with Van Dijk also failing to react in time when Gabriel Martinelli kicked in the gaping goal.
Liverpool then saw Ibrahima Konate sent off at the end of the match before Leandro Trossard’s injury-time goal went through Alisson’s groin after being caught by Van Dijk.
Defeats at the hands of West Ham and Fulham in the league during Christmas celebrations, plus a third round FA Cup exit to Liverpool, made Arsenal’s prospects even worse.
However, Arteta realized that they had managed to open the championship competition with those three valuable points.
“We were ruthless when we had chances and it was like a big win,” he said.
“At the moment Liverpool are probably the best team in Europe and at the stage they are at, they are an extraordinary team.
“We’ve come this far and now need to do it consistently. Liverpool have done that for six or seven years.
“He gave us momentum and the way we did it was clear we were back. I’m really thrilled.”
Arteta is also aware of the need to beat Liverpool, who could be eight points ahead if they return from the Emirates with a win.
“It’s a big match that will change where we are and where we will be,” he said.
“What the players produced was extraordinary. Especially our performance in the first half and the chances we created, the way we scored was really impressive.
“Tonight we will enjoy it because we worked hard to win it.”