Premier League takeaways: Arsenal title boost, Pochettino's struggles, Martinez injury woe

We pick out the main talking points from the latest round of English top-flight fixtures

Mikel Arteta celebrates after Arsenal's 3-1 Premier League victory over Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Reuters
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Gunners joy after shooting down Liverpool

The wild celebrations at the end of Arsenal's victory over Liverpool on Sunday showed how important the three points were for their title aspirations.

Defeat would have seen Liverpool open up an eight-point gap at the top of the table, leaving the Gunners level on points with Manchester City who, have two games in hand going into their match at Brentford on Monday.

Instead, Arsenal powered to an impressive 3-1 victory thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and an injury-time clincher from substitute Leandro Trossard that was greeted with raucous joy at the Emirates Stadium.

Last season the Gunners were eight points clear before falling away and eventually losing out to City, so the fact they have come through a major test against a Liverpool side that had only lost once all season was a huge boost for manager Mikel Arteta.

“We've been really consistent all season, if not you aren't where we are today,” said the Spaniard. “We have learnt that from last season. Liverpool are an unbelievable team. They're probably the most in-form team in Europe.”

Alisson in blunderland for below-par Merseysiders

It was 90 minutes to forget for Liverpool, and goalkeeper Alisson Becker in particular. The normally ultra-reliable Brazilian was badly at fault for the Martinelli and Trossard goals which meant Liverpool lost for the first time since their controversial defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on September 30.

The Reds were outplayed in the opening 45 minutes and were fortunate to go in all square after Gabriel's own goal in first-half injury-time cancelled out Saka's early strike for Arsenal.

But there was to be no second-half redemption as, first, Alisson's fresh-air kick – after poor defending from Virgil van Dijk – left Martinelli with an open goal. Worse was then to come for the hapless keeper as a routine near-post strike from Trossard slipped through his legs to rubber-stamp the loss.

Ibrahima Konate's second yellow card minutes before Arsenal's third meant it was a miserable day at the office for the Merseysiders. “Congratulations to Arsenal. We were not good enough today,” admitted manager Jurgen Klopp.

“It just shows the boys are human beings. Today we were really human. They scored goals and were many parts better than us.”

Pochettino under pressure at Chelsea

The pressure is building on Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino after their 4-2 humbling at the Wolves on Sunday, the team's 10th league defeat in 23 games this season.

Matheus Cunha's hat-trick earned Gary O'Neil's team a first victory at Stamford Bridge since 1979 that leaves Chelsea 11th in the table, 15 points off a top-four spot and 20 shy of Liverpool at the top.

Pochettino has made almost weekly appeals for time after a chaotic turnover in playing staff in the summer that has left Chelsea with a young squad lacking in experience and leaders on the pitch.

But patience is wearing thin in West London with the team having made little or no progress under the former Spurs and Paris Saint-Germain coach and looking set for another season without European football.

The jeers directed both at the players and manager at the end of another mess of a performance leaves Pochettino on the brink of becoming the third coach to be sacked at Chelsea in less than two seasons.

'What we were showing today was that we are not good enough. I agree 100 per cent,” said the Argentine. “We are all responsible. But the players need to take responsibility also.”

Martinez injury takes shine off Man United win

Manchester United enjoyed arguably their most complete performance of the season when they dispatched West Ham 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Rasmus Hojlund notched his fourth goal in as many league games, while Alejandro Garnacho hit a double as United leapfrogged the Hammers to move up to sixth in the table.

But a potential season-ending injury to defender Lisandro Martinez took the shine off what was only the second time this season United have won three successive games.

The centre-half, making only his fourth appearance since returning from four months out with a foot issue, injured his right knee having been landed on awkwardly by West Ham full-back Vladimir Coufal.

“I can't tell the detail but it seems bad,” said manager Erik ten Hag. “We have to wait for the detail and making the right diagnosis in the coming days. In this moment, we're very sad about this but, hopefully, it's not too bad. We can only pray.”

Luton show off survival skills

In a remarkable game at St James' Park on Saturday, Luton Town produced another performance that suggests we just might be seeing more of Rob Edwards' team in the top-flight next season.

Coming hot on the heels of a superb 4-0 thrashing of Brighton, the Hatters came close to completing a home and away double over Newcastle United.

Having won the corresponding game at Kenilworth Road 1-0, Luton twice fought back from a goal down on Tyneside before surging into a 4-2 lead. But the Magpies – who themselves enjoyed an impressive midweek win at Aston Villa – fought back to draw level at 4-4.

Both teams could have gone on to win it late on, but a point was still enough to pull Luton out of the bottom three and they currently look more likely to survive this season than many of their relegation rivals.

“What I was pleased with was our character, our resilience and then actually some quality to keep it at 4-4 and keep pushing,” said Edwards.

“I felt sick at times, I felt elation at times. I felt really proud watching my team play and, overall, I think a point was a fair result.”

Updated: February 05, 2024, 12:16 PM