The Roar
The Roar


'Schoolboy stuff', 'pub team defending': Liverpool let Arsenal back into title race after Alisson howler

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4th February, 2024

The Premier League title race has just got a lot tighter.

Arsenal benefited from two second-half errors from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson on Sunday to claim a 3-1 home victory over the league leaders.

It enabled the Gunners to move up to second place and just two points behind Liverpool after 23 of 38 games in what is beginning to shape up to be a three-way fight for the title.

Champions Manchester City are third, five points behind Liverpool but with two games in hand, and can cut into the lead when they visit Brentford on Monday.

Liverpool fell to only their second loss in the league, with the other also coming in north London — at Tottenham. 

If that defeat came in contentious circumstances, this one was of Liverpool’s own making because of the nature of Arsenal’s crucial second goal in the 67th that made it 2-1.

Brazilian Alisson, widely seen as the league’s best goalkeeper, came out of his area in an attempt to clear a long pass forward but kicked fresh air and the ball hit the back of covering defender Virgil van Dijk, leaving Gabriel Martinelli the simple task of tapping the loose ball into an empty net.


Ex-Liverpool star Jamie Carragher didn’t miss on the Sky Sports coverage.

“Van Dijk just has to head it,” he said. “Don’t let it bounce. We’re talking schoolboy stuff here,”

“We’re talking about players at the top level. This is something you learn at the bottom level of football.

“Van Dijk and Alisson have been brilliant this season, it’s one of the reasons why they’re back but that was a howler.”

The same Liverpool players had a role in a stoppage-time third, too, with Leandro Trossard’s shot deflecting off the outstretched boot of Van Dijk and going through the legs of Alisson as he tried to make the save at his near post.

Roy Keane called the entire performance substandard.


“In terms of the intensity from the first whistle to the last whistle from Liverpool, I can’t believe how bad they were,” said the Manchester United and Ireland legend.

“Credit to Arsenal, they turned up and were at it. But Liverpool defensively, the goals they gave away – it was like a pub team defending.”

Liverpool were down to 10 men at that point after Ibrahima Konate’s sending off for two yellow cards.

“It just shows the boys are human beings,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “Today we were really human.”

Bukayo Saka had earlier given Arsenal the lead in the 14th minute, only for the Gunners’ defender Gabriel to then concede an own-goal when the ball struck his hand and flew into the net.

Rasmus Hojlund failed to find the net in his first 14 games in the Premier League for Manchester United, but now he cannot stop scoring.


The Denmark striker marked his 21st birthday by scoring for the fourth straight league game, setting United on their way to a 3-0 win against West Ham at Old Trafford.

Alejandro Garnacho, their 19-year-old winger, netted the other two goals in the second half — and celebrated the first of them by perching on an advertising board with Hojlund and 18-year-old midfielder Kobbie Mainoo. 

They are three young players around whom United are building their future.

“I think that picture covers the lot — how they are together and want to play football with adventure and enjoyment,” United manager Erik ten Hag said. 

“If we keep this process going, I am sure we will achieve high levels.”


United’s current level is sixth place, a point above West Ham in seventh and six points behind Tottenham in fifth.

The pressure is back on Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino after a second straight heavy loss in the league, this time 4-2 at home to Wolverhampton.

It came four days after a 4-1 hammering by Liverpool at Anfield and there were jeers around Stamford Bridge at the final whistle after a wild game, during which Brazil striker Matheus Cunha scored a hat-trick for Wolves.

With his team languishing in 11th, Pochettino accepted Chelsea’s players “are not matching the history of the club.”

“Disappointed,” he said. “I apologise to the fans.”

Nottingham Forest fought back to draw 1-1 at Bournemouth, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s curling 45th-minute strike cancelling out the fifth-minute opener from Justin Kluivert.


Philip Billing was sent off in the 84th for Bournemouth.