1-point gap: Liverpool closes on City with 9th straight win

Liverpool hasn’t been this close to Manchester City in three months.

The gap is down to one point in a Premier League title race that looks set to go down to the wire after Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Arsenal on Wednesday.

That’s nine straight league wins for Liverpool, which has a momentum that City can’t quite match with nine games left of the season.

Timing is everything. Just ask Diogo Jota.

The Portugal forward was about to be substituted when he was set free down the left by a brilliantly threaded pass by Thiago Alcantara and found the bottom corner with a precise shot in the 54th minute.

It didn’t save Jota from being immediately taken off and the player who replaced him, Roberto Firmino, diverted in a deftly taken second goal in the 62nd to further puncture the optimism inside Emirates Stadium that had been generated by a strong first-half display by Arsenal.

It was the kind of decisive substitution by Jurgen Klopp that City manager Pep Guardiola failed to make in the leaders’ 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday, a result that gave Liverpool the chance to get closer to City than any time since Dec. 16.

Liverpool plays its next game — at home to lowly Watford — before City is next in action in the league, so is likely to go into the lead for the first time since early October.

And then comes the big one, with City hosting Liverpool on April 10 in a match that could have a major bearing on the destination of the title. Both teams know winning all nine of their remaining games will clinch the championship. Liverpool has the superior goal difference by 5.

“I’d still rather be in Man City’s position,” Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson said. “They are ahead. They have still got a point advantage. We still need to go to their place.”

“We’re in the race,” Robertson added. “A lot of people didn’t think we were going to be come January time but we are definitely in the race and we just need to keep focused on what we are doing and keep picking up as many points as possible.”

The loss was a setback to fourth-place Arsenal’s hopes of securing the final Champions League qualification place, especially with north London rival Tottenham winning Wednesday.

IN-FORM KANE

Harry Kane has rediscovered his best scoring form and it’s keeping Tottenham in the hunt for a return to the Champions League.

It’s seven goals in six games for the England striker after scoring the 57th-minute second goal in Tottenham’s 2-0 win at Brighton that lifted his team into seventh place and within three points of Arsenal.

Kane scored against Manchester United, Everton and Leeds in his previous three games and also had a double against Manchester City last month. He started the season slowly after being linked with a summer move to City.

Cristian Romero put Spurs ahead in the 37th with his first goal for the club.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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