Jurgen Klopp urged Liverpool to finish the job as they moved within one point of Premier League leaders Manchester City after Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino inspired a crucial 2-0 win against Arsenal on Wednesday.
Klopp’s side took advantage of City’s goalless draw against Crystal Palace on Monday thanks to their smash-and-grab raid at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal enjoyed a sustained period of pressure that could easily have yielded the opening goal, but Alisson Becker made a superb save to deny Martin Odegaard and Liverpool capitalised to steal the points.
Liverpool, chasing an unprecedented quadruple, have won nine successive league games, scoring 23 goals and only conceding twice.
Having trailed City by 14 points on January 15, Liverpool have hunted down the champions impressively, putting the race in their own hands as they eye a second title in three seasons.
A victory against Watford in their next league game on April 2 would set the stage for a seismic showdown with Pep Guardiola’s team at the Etihad Stadium on April 10.
“We’ve obviously had a good period. It’s what we need. We’re one point behind, but it’s still the same. We have to win football matches,” Klopp said.
“It’s better to be one point behind than 14 points. But in 10 years, do you think somebody will say you should be proud of finishing second? Probably not.
“We know we have a special group here and we’re trying to squeeze everything we can out of the situation.”
Finding a way to subdue an in-form Arsenal side who had won their previous five league games to climb to fourth place made the victory in rain-soaked north London even more impressive.
“It’s big. Coming here and winning against Arsenal is already special, but winning the game like it was is even more special,” Klopp said.
Klopp threw down the gauntlet to City this week when he admitted he wants Liverpool to be as “annoying as possible” in the title race.
There is no doubt Liverpool are proving extremely irritating, especially since they beat the Gunners with Mohamed Salah starting on the bench after suffering a foot injury in Saturday’s win at Brighton.
After several years in the doldrums, Arsenal are on the up and the vibrant atmosphere at the often subdued Emirates reflected that renewed confidence in Mikel Arteta’s young team.
– Turning point -Arsenal should have gone in front when Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara gifted possession to Alexandre Lacazette early in the second half.
Lacazette teed up Odegaard but Alisson kept out the Dane’s close-range effort with a stunning save.
“It was a sensational save. For me it was a goal, to be honest. With their quality, they often finish situations like that. Ali didn’t let it happen,” Klopp said.
That was the turning point as, moments later, Liverpool struck in the 54th minute.
Thiago’s precise pass behind Cedric Soares sent Jota sprinting into the Arsenal area, but the Portugal forward’s low shot should have been saved by Aaron Ramsdale, who let it squirm past him at the near post.
Liverpool went for the knockout blow and Firmino delivered it in the 62nd minute.
Andy Robertson was the catalyst with a brilliant piece of tenacity as the Scot saw his shot blocked, then chased to the touchline to steal possession before surging forward to send in a cross that Firmino converted with a deft finish.
Harry Kane created Premier League history with his goal in Tottenham’s 2-0 win at Brighton.
After Cristian Romero deflected Dejan Kulusevski’s effort into the net in the 37th minute, Kane entered the record books just before the hour.
His blistering finish from Rodrigo Bentancur’s pass made it 95 away goals in the Premier League for Kane, more than any other player.
The England striker also moved above Frank Lampard in the list of Premier League all-time scorers, going into fifth with 178 goals.
Antonio Conte’s seventh-placed side remain in the race for a top-four finish, sitting three points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
“We are very happy because Harry is scoring a lot. He started this season and he struggled a bit,” Conte said.
“Harry is starting to understand with this team, with the way we are playing, he has every game many chances to improve his record.”