Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk said he would take “the blame” for the champion’s surprise 2-1 defeat by Arsenal.

The centre-back’s lapse of concentration, miscuing a backpass under pressure from Reiss Nelson, allowed Alexandre Lacazette to steal in and score an equaliser against the run of play. Shortly afterwards, Alisson was culpable for another uncharacteristic error, mishitting a pass of his own that led to Nelson scoring Arsenal’s second.

Liverpool dominated the second half, having 24 shots and over 70 per cent possession, but couldn’t crack Arsenal’s stubborn defence.

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“Obviously the goals we gave as a present. Until their first goal it was totally us. We dominated,” Van Dijk said afterwards.

“We gave them two goals, but then it is difficult to come back. If you give goals away, like I did today, you get what you deserve. The goals shouldn’t happen, but until then there was nothing wrong. It happens in football sometimes and you have to deal with it. Unfortunately today, we had to deal with it twice!

“I take the blame for it. We move on. We wanted to win the game, but we can’t change the fact. We will try to win the last two games, but we have had a fantastic season already. Getting the trophy will be a dream come true. Tonight is disappointment and that is in my head, and sometimes you can be the villain, but we move on.”

Mikel Arteta spoke in glowing terms of his side’s performance, although their only real hope of qualifying for next season’s Europa League lies in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

“In terms of energy and happiness in the dressing room, this is good medicine ahead of the semi-final,” he said. “Against this team you have to take your chances, you need to defend, and you need a bit of luck, and we had all of that.

“We had belief. I was worried at 1-0 how we would react, but we were able to pick one moment and believe again. We were at it, and here is our reward. It is a massive job, you only need to look at the difference between the two teams today, the gap is enormous. But the gap in many areas, we can not improve it in two months.

Asked about whether he’ll be backed in the summer transfer market, Arteta said: “I don’t know. It is a big concern, because there is no magic. You need quality to build a squad, and you need big squads. It’s a challenge.”

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