That’s the record points tally gone, then. Despite running the show early and generating more than enough chances after the break, Liverpool lose their third game of the season, dropping all three points to an Arsenal side who had to do little else but take the opportunities generously handed to them by the Reds’ otherwise superb defense.
Below, we take a look at some of the winners and losers on the night the record slipped out of Liverpool’s hands.
Regression Believers: During Liverpool’s stunning early season run — when they won 26 out of their opening 27 games to start the year — that laid the foundation for their title win, the Reds specialised in maximising the points haul from relatively even matches. A slight advantage in chance creation was converted into three points — on 13 occasions by difference of a single goal — with spectacular regularity.
That sort of thing is, by those who believe in the underlying numbers behind the final score, largely considered unsustainable. Jürgen Klopp’s mentality monsters did a fantastic job of planting seeds of doubt in those statistics, making the majority of us believe that there had to be some sort of alchemy at play, some magic the Reds were producing that the stats couldn’t pick up on. It was exciting, because the existence of something like that would mean that the historic run of form might carry over into next year.
Since the restart, it appears that either the magic has all been spent, or results have begun regressing to the mean suggested by the underlying numbers. Winning the expected goals battle comfortably, but failing to collect all three points in consecutive games ensures that Liverpool’s overall record on the season falls more into line with their performances. Hopefully, the trend doesn’t carry over into next year.
The Public Relations Wing of a Human Rights-Abusing Petrostate: They get to keep their points record, for another year at least. Ugh.
That Imperious Defense: Conceding from the first two shots faced is big 2017 energy from the Reds. Giving up both shots from defensive errors, one each from the best central defender and goalkeeper in the world, respectively, is, I believe, unparalleled. Sure, those two situations notwithstanding, the Liverpool defense were pitching a shutout, but that is of no significance when your two main stalwarts decide to fail so completely, one right after the other.
That Deadly Attack: It’d be real sweet if that front three could start putting away their chances again huh. In seven matches since the restart, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino have scored six goals between them, from a total of 55 shots. This decidedly average return from what has proven over the past few years to be an elite unit is at least part of the reason the Reds have been unable to collect as many points as they would have deserved in the past few weeks.
With only two rounds to go, both Mané and Salah are now six and four goals behind top scorer Jamie Vardy, and the dream of a Golden Boot repeat for the Senegalese attacker, and a threepeat for the Egyptian appears to have evaporated.
What Happens Next
The Reds have the weekend off as the FA Cup semifinals are played, but will face Chelsea at Anfield next Wednesday, before being presented with the Premier League trophy on the same night, so get ready for those tippy-tappys.