Four second-half goals in six minutes saw Arsenal and Liverpool cook up a six-goal-thriller, as the immediate tussle for fourth place ended 3-3 at the Emirates Stadium.
Liverpool raced to a 2-0 lead on either side of half-time, but the Gunners were able to blitz three goals past the Reds to turn the game around early in the second period.
Arsène Wenger’s men wouldn’t resist at the back, however, as Roberto Firmino’s strike in the 71st minute locked both sides to a point each.
The big inclusion of the day saw Ainsley Maitland-Niles hold down a spot at left-back, setting up a clash against the red-hot Mohamed Salah.
Neither side managed to find it’s cutting edge in a competitive start to the game, with Liverpool sending the first and well overdue warning in the 23rd minute through Firmino’s back-post header, skipping past Petr Čech’s far post.
Arsenal looked to drag the troops back up the field but were left doing some heavy chasing two minutes later when Salah was played into the channels. A fortuitous cross from the Egyptian would unsettle the Arsenal defence and deflect itself into Philippe Coutinho’s path at the near-post, with the Brazilian glancing a header over Čech and breaking the deadlock.
The Reds could’ve landed a bitter blow to Arsenal’s hopes on the brink of half-time when Laurent Koscielny’s interception was sabotaged by a slip, allowing Salah through on goal prior to Čech’s important save and Sadio Mané’s acrobatic effort over on the rebound.
The interval was met with discontent from the home crowd, with the misery at the Emirates compiled further by an early Salah strike, deflecting away from Čech and into the bottom left corner to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead.
Arsenal grabbed a goal back promptly, as Alexis Sanchez caught Joe Gomez napping at the back post to nod a goal in from close range in the 53rd minute, halving the Merseyside outfit’s advantage.
Granit Xhaka was then able to raise the roof in a three-minute-salvo, measuring a powerful strike from range that would convey enough dip to throw Simon Mignolet off and nestle into the back of the net.
The Gunners grew to leave their opponents stunned in the 58th minute, as Mesut Özil worked his way into the area from Alexandre Lacazette’s backheel before knocking his finish into the ground expertly and taking his shot past Mignolet for 3-2.
More twists in this goal-infested tale saw Liverpool equalise in the 71st minute through Firmino’s strike, overcoming Čech’s attempted save and trickling agonisingly into the back of the net.
A chance each for Salah and Özil threatened to steal all-three points for either side, but 3-3 would be how the contest would end in a true Christmas cracker.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Starting XI: Petr Čech (6) – Héctor Bellerín (5), Laurent Koscielny (5), Nacho Monreal (4), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (6) – Jack Wilshere (7), Granit Xhaka (6) – Alex Iwobi (5), Mesut Özil (8), Alexis Sanchez (5) – Alexandre Lacazette (6)
Subs: Welbeck (5), Walcott (-)