Morning Gooners – and a happy Monday to you all! It’s always a lovely Monday blog to write when the team has won a big game against a close rival to you in the league. Even though the sun isn’t shining here in London, if you could see it through the clouds, you’d know that it would be shining that little bit brighter today.

Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-1 and I don’t think even the most blinkered of Liverpool fan could argue that we weren’t good value for that victory. We had a 3.52 vs 0.41 xG against them, we outshot them 15 to 10 and although they had more possession – based mainly on game state in my opinion – we reduced them to just one shot on target in the entire game. Afterwards Jurgen Klopp joked that they didn’t actually score, because Arsenal scored all three goals.

Which was true. Today’s blog needs to be focused on the good stuff that happened, so let’s focus on that own goal we conceded, before flipping back to our performance and goal. A speculative ball over the top by any team is usually dealt with by Saliba with ease, but on this occasion he waited too long for Raya to come and when it didn’t happen, Diaz was able to toe a boot towards Gabriel for it to rebound off his arm and in. It was a messy goal to concede and I don’t think any of our defenders covered themselves in glory. Saliba should have dealt with it, Raya should have either come and smothered it or given Saliba a shout to lump it in to touch. But neither did either and Gabriel was unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for the goal to go in.

It was a lifeline for Liverpool right on halftime because up until that point they’d offered almost nothing. I think Gakpo had a shot he dragged wide but that was about it. We had controlled the first half, created a couple of chances like Saka’s header early on in the game, as well as the goal itself in which Saka tapped in to an empty net on 14 minutes. I don’t want to bag on Havertz here because his run in behind was good, but he’ll be very thankful that Alisson’s save was straight in to Saka’s path, because it wasn’t a great finish from the German. I thought overall he did ok up top in place of the injured (again) Gabriel Jesus and with his task being to provide an aerial threat and to be a nuisance to Van Dijk and Konate, I think he did enough to offer us something different, including getting the French defender rightly sent off for two yellows. I think Klopp tried to have a bit of a moan about it after the game, but you can’t really argue about any of the yellows. The first one he has just wrestled Havertz to the floor after a long ball in to the air. Then the second one Havertz has done him with a bit of skill and he’s just thrown his hands up in to his chest. It’s two yellows and we all know what that means.

That was on 88 minutes and it was when the match was at it’s tensest, because we’d been holding on to our lead after VVD and Allison’s howler of a dual mistake had put us back ahead. I bet Martinelli couldn’t believe his luck; he did the right thing to chase down a ball over the top but I think 99 times out of 100 we see one – or both – of them deal with that and get rid of it. Thankfully for us it was that one in 100 chance and we were back in front. It sort of feels like karma really. We gave them one they didn’t deserve in the first half, they gave us one back in the second half to even it out.

It was a tense and tight game throughout the match but that last third of the game felt like it really dragged on until Konate was sent off. Even then you still feared a Liverpool counter. We’ve seen that before even this season: remember Fulham at home? They were down to 10, we were in control, they get a corner and score from it. So we’ve been burned before and you still wondered if Liverpool would get at least one more chance before the game was up. Thankfully we had Leo Trossard on to get that game sewn up and as I had speculated pre game, he loves a goal against the Scousers and he did it against yesterday. I think that’s now six goals in 11 games he’s scored against them. Long may that streak continue, I have to say, because I thought he came on and did really well.

But they all did. Every player put in a shift and we all said beforehand we’d have to be at our best to win that game. We were certainly up there from a performance levels perspective and whilst I think it’s fair to say Liverpool weren’t at their free-flowing best, I do wonder how much of that was because we didn’t allow them to be. It’s alright saying that Liverpool weren’t great, but we had the same thing when Man City came to town and it was because we suffocated, we controlled and we dominated our opponent. That’s what we’ve been doing all season and when you aren’t faced against a low block, then this is the kind of football and result you see.

A quick word on one incident that I saw about 20 yards in front of me, which was between Havertz and VVD. I’ve seen the replays again and I see how Havertz goes in to challenge VVD. I think he has to go in for it and perhaps there’s a little bit of the Harry Kane’s there, although nowhere near as bad as his antics. But I’ve also had some Liverpool fans coming at me because of the kick that Van Dijk did on Havertz after his challenge. I cannot believe that VAR looked at that, because if they did, they’d have probably have sent Van Dijk off. He knew what he was doing there and to have some armchair fans saying to me it didn’t happen because they didn’t see a replay, is hilarious. Let me tell you now: I was there, in the ground, it happened right in front of me. It should have resulted in a red.

Thankfully it is a minor footnote in an otherwise great day that now sees us go to within two points of Liverpool. They are still in the driving seat, they are still the team that needs to be deposed, but we made a giant leap yesterday in getting back in contention for the title race. Defeat yesterday and it’s probably all over. But the boys stepped up and we now have a week off before we go to West Ham and have to right the wrong of what happened over the Christmas period.

Last night we did a post game show on the Same Old Arsenal podcast and so if you fancy listening to that you can do so here.

Otherwise, I’ll put a stop to today’s proceedings and I’ll catch you all tomorrow.