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Five talking points as Arsenal close the gap to Liverpool
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Mitchell Fretton
Leandro Trossard sealed the win in added time
Leandro Trossard sealed the win in added time

Arsenal closed the gap to Liverpool at the top of the Premier League to two points with a dominant 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring early on before Gabriel Magalhaes put the ball into his own net just before the break to level proceedings.

But the Gunners pushed on in the second half with Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard netting to seal the win. 

Here are five key talking points from a cagey affair in North London.

Superb Saka

In a match where Arsenal could make a statement, one of their own stood up to be counted.

Saka's opener was no more than the Gunners deserved after a blistering 15 minutes and the England international did not hesitate to exploit the space left by Joe Gomez at the back.

Jurgen Klopp's insistence on using Gomez in an inverted role meant the home side's top scorer was constantly at the heart of their attacks and his goal was a reward for Arsenal's pressing against the league leaders.

Defensive disaster

For all Arsenal's dominance in the match, their title credentials were called into question with another disaster at the back.

Liverpool failed to register a shot on target in the first half but a clear lack of communication between Gabriel, William Saliba and David Raya handed the Reds a lifeline going into the break.

The former's own goal was a needless error and one that stunned the Emirates into silence in what had otherwise been a comfortable first period for Mikel Arteta's side.

Repaying the favour

It was an afternoon to forget for defenders from both teams after Virgil van Dijk had a nightmare moment in the second half to hand Arsenal the advantage again.

The experienced captain did his best impersonation of Saliba's shielding technique for Liverpool's leveller and goalkeeper Alisson failed to clear the ball, leaving Martinelli with the simplest of finishes. 

Considering these are the two teams closest to challenging Manchester City for their crown, the defensive issues are perhaps the clearest indication yet that Pep Guardiola's side are hot favourites for the run-in.

Virgil van Dijk and Alisson had a mix-up at the back for Arsenal's second goal
Virgil van Dijk and Alisson had a mix-up at the back for Arsenal's second goal

Finishing touch

There was a clear lack of quality in the final third for both teams but it is not surprising considering Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Salah were both missing.

The Gunners had chances to kill the game and eventually did but they clearly lacked the finesse of their Brazilian forward while the Reds could have done with their Egyptian king to act as a link in the final third. 

And with the result tightening things up at the top of the table, the challengers will need their star men back if they are to compete with Erling Haaland's return at City.

All to play for

Ahead of City's clash with Brentford on Monday night, only five points split the top four and a win for Kevin De Bruyne and Co would send the champions to within two of leaders Liverpool.

Victory for Arsenal means they remain in the fight and their return to form comes at the perfect time ahead of a favourable run.

And after three years of dominance in Manchester, it is brilliant to see such a tightly contested battle at the summit.


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