If Liverpool lose to Arsenal, normally it would be big news.
But since the title race is already over, this is going to be just a footnote.
However the loss has one significant consequence.
Liverpool will have to settle for just lifting the Premier League trophy next week.
Unfortunately, it won’t be accompanied by a record-breaking points total after losing 2-1 at Arsenal on Wednesday.
Having ended the club’s 30-year title drought, Liverpool has suddenly taken their foot off the pedal.
It’s all gone.
The sharpness, intensity and creativity.
As a result, they will not able to overhaul Manchester City’s 100-point record.
In fact, Liverpool looked distracted throughout the match. Tellingly enough, Arsenal scored from its first two shots on target, to cancel out Sadio Mane’s opener.
And ironically, Liverpool provided both the assists through carelessness.
Liverpool lose to Arsenal but Klopp is smiling
Klopp was in a genial mood even after the loss.
Intensity is not a horse, you can keep flogging, for eternity – Klopp knows this.
Bouts of relaxation sometimes help a team rediscover and recharge themselves.
As John Lennon once said – “All the time spent doing nothing doesn’t mean you are doing nothing!”
“We are all human,” The Liverpool manager purred, sympathetically.
“I cannot make a negative out of something so positive – becoming champions so early in the season. These boys have played an exceptional season and no one can take that away from them.”
This EQ which allows Klopp to treat his players like real people and not machines is what makes him different, to a Simeone or a Guardiola.
Make no mistake. Klopp is also a perfectionist but since his raw material is the human body and the human mind, he knows that these can occasionally falter.
Like Virgil Van Dijk did yesterday.
Under pressure from Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson on the edge of the penalty area, Virgil van Dijk opted for an ill-judged back-pass.
Alexandre Lacazette intercepted the ball and rounded goalkeeper Alisson before tapping in Arsenal’s equaliser in the 32nd minute.
In fact, Arsenal’s second goal too happened due to an Alisson mistake.
“We gifted them the goals,” Van Dijk said. “We dominated until the first goal. But we can’t give away goals just like that and expect to won. It doesn’t work like that.”
Arsenal poor at defence, as usual
Initially, a familiar story was unfolding.
Arsenal’s defending was poor and clearly lacked leadership.
No Arsenal defender marked Mane who met Andrew Robertson’s cross and duly put Liverpool in front in the 20th minute.
But Arsenal was lucky as Liverpool did an ‘Arsenal’.
Not once but twice.
Liverpool’s last 2 games have produced just one point. Even against lowly Burnley at Anfield, they drew 1-1.
This was only Liverpool’s third loss of the season. As a result, it can only finish with 99 points by winning its remaining two matches.
“We can’t blame it on the fact that we are already champions,” Van Dijk said. “We will try to win the last two games and then get a well-deserved break. We have had a fantastic season.”
Liverpool sealed the title in a record time three weeks ago, with seven games to spare, after a three-month pandemic-enforced break.
The trophy will be presented to Liverpool players after final home match of the season next Wednesday against Chelsea.
With no fans allowed into Anfield due to the coronavirus, a podium will be built in the iconic Kop stand.
And Jordan Henderson will become the first Liverpool player since 1990 to lift a league championship trophy.
Can Arsenal play the Champion’s League?
Arsenal has won the Premier League four times since then, but not since 2004.
Mikel Arteta’s signing was supposed to herald a change in fortunes.
However, it was a false dawn. The north London club is way off the pace this season, 40 points adrift.
This win only lifted Mikel Arteta’s side to ninth place, but it remains in the hunt for Europa League qualification.
The route into Europe is possible through the FA Cup.