Liverpool & Arsenal Lose Ground in Premier League Race

Entering Sunday, Liverpool was in control of the Premier League. If the Reds were able to win the remainder of their games, they would win the league. Now, four days after a 3-0 defeat to Atalanta at Anfield in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals, Liverpool finds itself behind both Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League and its hopes of winning the league are greatly diminished.

The Reds played host to a Crystal Palace club that entered the game with 30 points — Liverpool entered with 70. Palace took the lead in the 14th minute and the Reds were unable to finish numerous chances in front of net. Coach Jurgen Klopp was in disbelief over the loss.

“I would say with the chances we had, we were really unlucky,” Klopp said. “In the second half, Crystal Palace were lucky we didn’t punish them but that’s why we are stood here with no points and Crystal Palace have three. Of course you have to ask these questions — what does it mean for the title race and stuff like this,” Klopp told reporters on Sunday. “I’m not dumb, I know that. The answer is pretty easy: if we play like we did in the first half, why should we win the league?”

Following Liverpool’s shock loss, Arsenal had an opportunity to take control of the Premier League. A victory would have put the Gunners atop the table with 74 points — ahead of Man City (73). Aston Villa, the visitors, began the match with 60 points and in a tie for fourth-place with Tottenham.

After 80 scoreless minutes which saw Villa have multiple shots hit the inside of the post and fail to go into the net, goals from Leon Bailey (’84) and Ollie Watkins (’87) handed Arsenal its first loss since New Year’s Eve. Arsenal is now in the same position as Liverpool in hoping that Man City trips up at some point down the stretch. Coach Mikel Arteta was asked about his team’s resolve following the crushing defeat.

“If one result is going to do that then we are not strong enough. That’s very simple. We had one of the best performances that we’ve had all season in the first half against a really good team. It should have been three or four or more. It didn’t happen. In the second half the momentum shifted. We could not control and generate what we did in the first half. We conceded two very poor goals and we lost the game.”

“Congratulate the opponent and stand up. Now the moment is to stand up and be counted. When you win and win and win for four months it’s very simple to do it. The moment to do it is now. We don’t have any other solution. If you want to win championships, if you want to be there in the Champions League, when you have these moments you have to stand up. If not that means that you don’t have a quality that is very necessary. Now it’s a big test for us.”