Klopp is right - Liverpool aren’t in this title race. But Arsenal are.

Published: Monday, 10 October 2022

So what did we learn from Sunday’s showdown at the Emirates? Only that Arsenal are definitely in this title race. We pretty much knew that Liverpool aren’t before they lost.

It’s been a big week for Arsenal. Wins over Spurs and now Liverpool convinced a few of us that they’ve got a chance. A very small chance because City are going to win it again - unless they implode.

Liverpool’s challenge ended when Brighton scored their third goal at Anfield the week before. Klopp said as much before the Arsenal game and The Gunners confirmed his view - aided and abetted by VAR and Michael Oliver. We’ll get back to that.

Arsenal deserved their win. They were clearly the better side. But what on earth has happened to Liverpool? It’s deeper than a sulking Salah being way off the mark. He couldn’t kick a steady arse right now. Why? I could understand a slow start if he’d got better. But he hasn’t. And we haven’t seen anything from him since the African Cup of Nations. Nothing. Klopp took him off Sunday - I wonder if he’ll consider not starting him in the next league game?

I still think Arsenal will come up short - but we need them to be nipping away at City. We need Spurs to keep winning as well, but watching them is really hard work. I said on beINSPORTS Saturday that if Mourinho was serving up what Conte is he’d be slaughtered. I’m not criticising Conte. He’s doing what he’s always done and Spurs need to be tougher, but when Mourinho did the same thing at Tottenham he was labelled a dinosaur. Conte is supposedly a tactical genius. 🤷‍♂️  

But let’s get back to Arsenal. They got all the big decisions. Saka is offside when he receives the ball in the build up to the first goal. He’s clearly offside. But let’s be generous and say VAR let it go because it was so tight. I’ve argued that when decisions are - the forward should always get the advantage so I’d be happy if the PGMOL have had a change of heart Except they haven’t . They missed it. How do I know? Because we asked the match centre for the proof that Saka was on. We wanted to see the lines they’d used to make their decision. They couldn’t provide them. Why? Because they didn't use them. If they checked it - they guessed.

Liverpool should’ve had a pen. Never mind that the ‘proximity of the ball to the arm was too close’. I’ve read arguments today that ‘it’s hard to fathom how Gabriel could’ve got his arm out of the way of Jota’s cross’ I’m quoting Martin Samuel. Nonsense. He moves his arm to the ball. It starts by his side - and Liverpool had two in the middle waiting for the ball. Pen. Nailed on.

And the pen Oliver gave Arsenal was a poor decision as well, but there was no way Darren England in VAR was ever going to tell him that he’d got it wrong. Oliver had a decision at Forest queried recently - when he gave them a pen - and I’m told that he let it be known in the following days that he wasn’t happy about being sent to his monitor. Oliver is now just about our most senior ref. There’s no way he’s going to have someone he considers junior to him questioning his decisions.

So a good win Arsenal, but any breaks that we’re going went their way.

What about the mess the match centre made of the goals that Antonio and Rashford scored? They were identical - but VAR allowed Antonio’s v Fulham - and later ruled out Rashford’s at Everton. Antonio has admitted that of course he’d handled the ball. The match centre told us they’d seen it but that the offence hadn’t led ‘directly to a goal’. What? It did. He scored.

The difference between that goal and Rashford’s at Everton was what? Either both should’ve stood - or both should’ve been disallowed. In fairness to Fulham, I’d say Scamacca was lucky as well. He didn’t celebrate his goal because he expected it to be ruled out. And so it should’ve been.  

What an achievement by Ronaldo - 700 club goals. He’s been immense. He’s been the best of his generation for me. As Andy said Sunday - what separates him from Messi is that he’s scored bucket loads of goals in England. Spain and Italy.

To give you some idea what an impressive haul 700 is - I was shown a tweet at the weekend from Tom Kundert. I haven’t checked it so I hope he’s right. Tom reckons that Haaland would need 43.2 goals/season for the next 15 years (when he’ll be 37) to get to 700. Amazing eh?

I’m glad that Ronaldo has settled down at United because he was in danger of spoiling it all with his sulking. He’s got to understand that he’s at the age now where he can only make cameo appearances. But if he can come off the bench and do what he did Sunday he’s still got a part to play.

As for the speculation linking Ronaldo to Inter Miami - I doubt it very much. He wears the wrong boots. He’s a Nike man. Miami are heavily involved with Adidas. If either of the two fading superstars is going to make that move - I’d say it would be Messi. He’s sponsored by Adidas. These big moves don’t get done too often now without a sponsor being involved.