The optimism which surrounded Juergen Klopp’s arrival as Liverpool manager two months ago has been substituted with a realism. Liverpool is five points adrift of Manchester United, which held onto fourth place despite losing at Bournemouth on Saturday, and nine behind provisional leader Arsenal.
Olivier Giroud converted an early penalty for his 50th Premier League goal before Mesut Ozil set up Aaron Ramsey to sweep in another as Arsenal beat bottom-place Aston Villa 2-0. It was goalkeeper Petr Cech’s 169th clean sheet in the Premier League — most achieved with Chelsea — matching David James’s record.
Although Arsenal’s stay at the top could be brief if Leicester beats ailing champion Chelsea, the win at Villa Park capped a good week when the odds were defied to book a place in the round of 16 in the Champions League.
“I was a bit anxious today because we had given a lot on Wednesday night (at Olympiakos) and we came back very, very late,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I knew that Villa was fighting to survive . . . It was a controlled performance and a great week for us. Don’t worry. I had as well a few bad weeks already. So sometimes it balances a little bit.”
It’s been a good four months for north London counterpart Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs. They had not lost in the league since the opening day of the season until running into a resilient Newcastle, which ended the 14-match unbeaten run.
Perez beat Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at his near post as the full-time whistle loomed after fellow substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic had cancelled out Eric Dier’s first-half headed opener for Tottenham.
“In the second half, every time we had the ball we started to make some mistakes and we give them the possibility to a right to a goal,” Pochettino said. “I think the first person that was responsible of the defeat is me.”
“You’re only two days away from another crisis so it’s important we keep our feet on the ground,” McClaren said. “We’ve not turned the corner . . . We want to be (like) this every week and that only comes on a platform on a bed of hard work, attitude and commitment and discipline.”
Although Jordan Henderson put Liverpool ahead at Anfield, Craig Dawson quickly scored an equalizer in the first half for West Brom and Jonas Olsson put the visitors ahead in the 73rd. But Henderson set up Origi to score from outside the area just when the Midlands club seemed set to take all three points.
“Maybe the crowd was disappointed but they didn’t let us feel it,” Klopp said. “We were all in the game, we were all concentrated to get this one point at the end and it felt like three. I know it’s only one but it felt like three and in this moment there was an explosion (of emotion).”