Arsenal vs Liverpool Match Report :
Perfect start to festive season, the goals were raining at Emirates, the contest was evenly poised for most of the times as both teams were able to find the net 3 times each. This game will surely go into the books as one of the best encounters between Arsenal vs Liverpool.
This is how the teams shaped up for the big clash ahead of Christmas.
Arsenal : (4-4-2)
Cech(GK), Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette.
Liverpool : (4-3-3)
Mignolet(GK), Gomez, Klavan, Lovren, Robertson, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
First Half :
Arsenal began the match in style as Maitland-Niles took possession of the ball on the left after a wasteful early freekick of Liverpool, but the move broke down and Mignolet collected the ball. Arsenal made the first meaningful break as Iwobi slipped the ball to Wilshere, who passed it left to Sanchez. The Chilean tried to shoot on his right foot, but it was blocked and cleared by the Liverpool defense.
Maitland-Niles coped with Salah’s first real attack down the right, but he had put the ball out for a corner. Coutinho delivered the corner, but it was well taken by Cech. It was an even start of the big match considering the ball possession. But Henderson had put the ball out and gone down with a right hamstring injury. James Milner had to be brought in place of him at just 9th minute of the match. It was a real big blow for Liverpool in the perspective of the match.
Liverpool’s first shot on target was a real good chance to score but Firmino headed the ball straight at Cech from close range. Arsenal responded with their first real chance in quick succession.But Sanchez and Lacazette’s combination wasn’t enough for Arsenal to break the Liverpool defense.
Liverpool had drawn the first blood in this big match when Milner played a long ball down the right for Salah to chase and his deflected pass had fallen straight into the path of Philippe Coutinho, who glanced the ball with his head over the stranded Cech and into the net.
That goal had really opened the game as Arsenal tried to find an immediate response, and there were several occasions in the first half when the Gunners could have gone 2-0 down. There were a lot of gaps created between the full backs and the centre backs of the Gunners and the Liverpool attackers were trying to capitalize on that open space. But Liverpool weren’t able to increase their lead and the first half ended with Liverpool leading by a lone goal of Coutinho at Emirates.
Second Half :
The second half started with Mustafi replacing Monreal for the home side. Liverpool broke on the edge of their own box and Salah played a one-two with Mane to break into the Arsenal penalty area. He went for the right-footed strike low towards the bottom corner, but Cech made a solid stop. Liverpool doubled up their lead soon as Arsenal were exposed on the counter once again as Salah’s effort deflected off the leg of Mustafi into the net.
But the game had many more twists to deliver as Sanchez started the comeback process for the Gunners with heading one back from a beautiful cross provided by Hector Bellerin. In quick succession Xhaka collected 25 yards from goal and unleashed a powerful strike towards the net. It was awful keeping from Mignolet and Arsenal were back on level terms.
Arsenal had completed the turn around within only 5 minutes as Mesut Ozil made the scoreline 3-2 in favour of the Gunners.The German played a one-two with Lacazette in the box and he collected the ball in the left inside channel. There was still plenty of work to do, but he just lifted the ball over the top of Mignolet and into the bottom corner to give Arsenal the lead for the first time in the match. But more drama was still left in the match as Firmino was afforded space and time on the edge of the box and he blasted his effort towards the net. Cech got a hand on the ball, but it went behind him and bounced into the net. The power of the Brazilian’s shot was too much for the Arsenal keeper to overcome. The scoreline was all level once again in one of the most incredible games of the season so far.
Both sides had got several chances after the scoreline became 3-3 at Emirates. But neither side was able to find the winning goal and perhaps it was a fair result considering the intensity of the players of both the sides. Liverpool still remained a place ahead of Arsenal in the League Table after this match with only 1 point separating the teams.
Cech – 6/10
Bellerin – 7.5/10
Koscielny – 6/10
Monreal – 6/10
Maitland-Niles – 7.5/10
Wilshere – 7.5/10
Xhaka – 7/10
Iwobi – 7/10
Ozil – 8/10
Alexis – 7.5/10
Lacazette – 7.5/10
Mustafi – 7/10
Welbeck – 6/10
Walcott – N.A/10
Mignolet – 4/10
Gomez – 5/10
Klavan – 6.5/10
Lovren – 7.5/10
Robertson – 6/10
Henderson – 5/10
Can – 8/10
Coutinho – 8/10
Mane – 8.5/10
Salah – 8/10
Firmino – 8/10
Milner – 7/10
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5/10
Wijnaldum – 6/10
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
“We played frozen with fear and not at our level in the first half. In the second half we played at our level. It was a thrilling game. I am frustrated at not winning but that is the type of game you want in the Premier League. The good thing is that overall we did not give up. The spirit is fantastic. On that front I am proud of the players. It shows a strong mentality. We have the capacity to respond. What you want is for the team to realise that we have to start from the first minute. They knew that Liverpool had pace up front and maybe when you prepare for a game you want players to be ready but you make the opponent too big in the heads of your players. More for people who love football, let’s give credit to the creative force. If you have no shots on goal the defences look good but that is not what people want to see.”
Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles:
“English football has changed, there are a lot of counter-attacking teams now, it’s like basketball. I did OK, there are things to work on but I am getting there slowly. We are not happy, we should have won the game. When you are ahead there is no reason to drop points.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:
“It is difficult to explain, we should be three, four even five-nil up before we don’t defend a cross. It feels really strange. A point at Arsenal is a good result for most teams in the world but it feels not too good at the moment. We made mistakes on both sides of the game but it is unlikely to win 6-3 or something at Arsenal. We didn’t take all of our chances but three goals should be enough. Arsenal were not in the game apart from 10 minutes.”