In Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League defeat to Arsenal, Liverpool’s captain, Virgil van Dijk, has maintained that he should bear the responsibility for Gabriel Martinelli’s absurd goal.
After losing in North London, where they attempted to repeat their FA Cup victory from a few weeks ago, Jurgen Klopp’s team currently leads the Gunners by only two points at the top of the standings.
When Arsenal played at that time, they had complete control over the game but fell short due to poor finishing. On Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s team put their vices behind them as Bukayo Saka broke the tie following Alisson Becker’s one-on-one save of Kai Havertz.
Liverpool’s assault was a ghost of its typical self without Dominik Szoboszlai and Darwin Nunez, who were only healthy enough to be substitutes because of a foot injury. As a result, David Raya was forced into not one save throughout the first half.
William Saliba held off Luis Diaz, expecting Raya to come and collect, but Diaz was able to get a toe to the ball, which bounced off Gabriel Magalhaes’s palm and into an empty goal, bringing Klopp’s team level under absurd circumstances.
After Gabriel’s gaffe, Van Dijk and Alisson obstructed each other’s attempts to cut out a long pass, leaving the goal open for Martinelli to roll the ball into. This gave Klopp’s team the advantage at the beginning of the second half because of Liverpool’s undeserved gift.
Ibrahima Konate’s red card in the last seconds of play all but ended Liverpool’s chances of a comeback, and Leandro Trossard’s goal in extra time sealed the Reds’ fate when he found a space between Alisson’s knees at his near post.
According to an interview he gave to Sky Sports News following the game, which liverpoolfc.com reported, Van Dijk took responsibility for Arsenal’s second goal, which came as the Dutchman attempted to hold off Martinelli as the Brazilian ran out of his box but jumped over the ball.
“In the end, it was undoubtedly a really difficult day. “I accept full responsibility for the 2-1 goal, but it’s a significant turning point in the game,” the Dutchman said. “I ought to have performed better and chosen wisely in the situation.
“Both I and the rest of the squad are hurting from it. We were very strong after the interval, so I believe it was a major turning point in the game. We were in control, we had chances, and I believe things began to become a little more tense.
Although Arsenal is a strong squad and will make every effort to win, we were clearly superior, particularly in the second half. And then the pivotal moment arrived. I am accountable for it. I should simply clear it up, but I made a split-second judgement that was incorrect, and these things do happen in football, sadly. However, it doesn’t lessen how painful it is.
“It’s a difficult one, but these things haven’t occurred too often in my career. I’ll learn from my mistakes and move on, but I’ll accept the blame, so I’ll be okay after this.
“I’m not trying to find reasons why. For the most part, it’s a simple choice that you make. I decided to step in between the balls and let them bounce. Alisson was unable to clean it since he had touched me a bit. I accept complete responsibility for the things that happen. I’ll do my best to prevent these things from occurring.”
With only one shot on goal over the course of the ninety minutes, Liverpool’s Expected Goals total was 0.37; by comparison, Arsenal’s 3.52 xG was the most Liverpool had ever faced in a Premier League match since statistics became available.
When the Reds return to Anfield on Saturday to take on relegation-threatened Burnley, Manchester City may have already closed the gap on top spot to two points with their Monday success over Brentford.