Agony for Arsenal and Liverpool. Why did it go wrong and is there still hope?

<span>Left to right: Martin Ødegaard, Mikel Arteta, <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Darwin Núñez;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Darwin Núñez</a> and Jürgen Klopp.</span><span>Composite: Guardian Picture Desk</span>

Why did Sunday go so badly?

Arsenal: Mikel Arteta’s decision to disrupt the formula that has served them so well since the turn of the year backfired spectacularly against an Aston Villa side who came to the Emirates Stadium with a clear gameplan. Kai Havertz looked threatening during the first half as he consistently broke through the lines from his midfield position but Gabriel Jesus was unable to provide the cutting edge in attack as Arsenal faded badly after the break. By contrast, Ollie Watkins was a constant menace and unsettled the usually assured Gabriel Magalhães, while John McGinn and co were able to control possession for Villa against an ineffective Arsenal midfield. But of most concern was how panic seemed to spread among Arteta’s players as they chased the game and were eventually overwhelmed. EA

Related: Man City once stumbled in the greatest title race of all. This time looks different

Liverpool: When Eberechi Eze polished off a flowing Crystal Palace move involving 21 passes – and precious little resistance – it was the 14th time this season that Liverpool had initially fallen behind in a Premier League game. They have conceded first in four of the past five league matches at Anfield. Jürgen Klopp’s team have received more praise than criticism for winning 27 points from losing positions this term but, without rectifying the fault, too many passive starts were destined to catch up with them eventually. Liverpool have been beaten twice in four days at Anfield. Despite Klopp demanding a reaction to the Europa League defeat by Atalanta, his team started dismally against Palace, who carved open their hosts in some style. Collectively, Liverpool’s defensive organisation was again poor. When another second-half improvement arrived their problems transferred to the front line with Darwin Núñez, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones squandering gilt-edged chances. AH







Man City















Aston Villa





Tottenham Hotspur




Has this been coming?

Arsenal: The team’s progress had been serene until the 18th minute against Bayern Munich last Tuesday. Arsenal were leading 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final but a moment of confusion between David Raya and Gabriel gave the German side a lifeline and seemed to spread doubt among a defence that has been the key to their recent form. Despite Arteta insisting before the Villa game that his players would learn from their experience after recovering to draw against Bayern, it was clear those issues remain as a series of mistakes allowed Unai Emery’s side to take all three points. The ease with which Leon Bailey was able to score Villa’s first goal after a weak cross from Lucas Digne bisected Arsenal’s defence highlighted the growing uncertainty that has crept in. EA

Liverpool: Absolutely, and that’s not being smart with the benefit of hindsight. There was trepidation around Anfield before kick-off on Sunday that was justified and ultimately prescient. Atalanta’s comprehensive victory was one reason, and a 3-0 away win in no way flattered a team sixth in Serie A, but Liverpool’s recent performances were the main harbinger of doom. A month ago Klopp’s team remained in the hunt for four trophies and the perfect send-off for their departing manager. Since letting the FA Cup quarter-final slip through their fingers at Manchester United, however, there has been a lack of conviction to Liverpool’s play that has afflicted them at both ends of the pitch. Belief appears to be draining from players and fans alike. “I’m not 100% sure that how we dealt with the United games particularly helped,” admitted Klopp on Sunday. “We lost the game in the Cup and it was like a catastrophe.” AH

Manchester City
25 April Brighton A
28 April Nottingham Forest A
4 May Wolves H
11 May Fulham A
14 May Tottenham A
19 May West Ham H

20 April Wolves A
23 April Chelsea H
28 April Tottenham A
4 May Bournemouth H
12 May Manchester United A
19 May Everton H

21 April Fulham A
24 April Everton A
27 April West Ham A
5 May Tottenham H
13 May Aston Villa A
19 May Wolves H

What are their biggest problems?

Arsenal: Concerns about the mental effects of last season’s failed title chase on such a young squad are bound to be raised after the manner of Sunday’s defeat. This time Arteta has virtually a full squad to choose from, having been hampered by injuries to William Saliba and Gabriel during the run-in 12 months ago, but the negative memories will have come flooding back for many of his players. The challenge for Arteta, who often speaks about how important managing your emotions can be when it comes to the crunch, is to make them believe all is not lost. As Declan Rice – one of those unaffected by last season’s scar tissue – said, the chance to beat Bayern in their own backyard is the “perfect game” for a reaction. EA

Liverpool: Fatigue is the obvious one, mental and physical. The workload on a squad stretched by injuries and that needed inexperienced youngsters to maintain momentum, and win the Carabao Cup, has started to take a toll at the worst possible time. Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo have had to play more minutes than Klopp would have liked in recent months. Both looked shattered against Palace and Atalanta. Conversely, while Liverpool’s injury problems have eased, players coming back from lengthy layoffs – Dominik Szoboszlai, Jota, Jones, even Mohamed Salah – need time to rediscover the intense rhythm that Klopp’s approach demands. A tight Premier League title race and cup quarter-finals afford no such luxury. AH

Have the managers done anything to regret?

Arsenal: Arteta has tried to appear calm as the intensity of the title race has stepped up. He will probably regret the selection of Jakub Kiwior at left-back against Bayern after the Poland defender was at fault for the second goal having previously been a solid performer in a position that has caused the Arsenal manager most headaches this season. The omission of Jorginho until the 79th minute against a Villa side that grew in confidence looks ill-advised with hindsight. Arteta has shown he has learned a lot from last season and will be keenly aware there is no room for mistakes at this stage. EA

Liverpool: Klopp’s options have been constrained by injuries for much of the season. It is harsh, therefore, to blame the manager for Liverpool’s sudden deterioration when his skilful handling of reduced resources has kept the team in contention for an unexpected shot at the title. He can, however, regret the amount of slow starts and missed chances that have cost Liverpool. His faith in a front three of Salah-Núñez-Luis Díaz must also be eroding after another ineffective performance from the trio against Palace. Cody Gakpo carried a greater threat when introduced in the 66th minute and is surely in contention to start at Atalanta on Thursday. AH

What brings cause for optimism?

Arsenal: Although Arteta offered a terse response to questions about Martin Ødegaard’s fitness after the Villa game and didn’t reveal the extent of the injury that forced his captain off the pitch, Arsenal are hopeful the playmaker will be fit to face Bayern on Wednesday. Ødegaard will be crucial to their chances of reaching the last four for the first time since 2009 and there were signs during the first leg that Thomas Tuchel’s side are vulnerable, especially down their left flank, where they will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies. A momentous victory at the Allianz Arena could provide the impetus Arsenal need to reignite their Premier League title challenge and potentially set up a mouthwatering semi-final against Manchester City. Who knows what impact that could have on the title race?

Liverpool: It may be thin on the ground after the past two results but Liverpool’s powers of recovery under Klopp are well established and, as mentioned, the squad is close to full strength again, with Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold making their comebacks against Palace. And Liverpool are only two points behind the leaders with six games to play. But the leaders are Manchester City. And Liverpool’s next four games are away from home. AH