MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool

A late Alexandre Lacazette strike earned Arsenal a point at the Emirates Stadium, as both the Gunners and Liverpool kept their unbeaten runs intact with a 1-1 draw, this evening.

Following an intense first half, the Reds broke the deadlock midway through the second period via James Milner.

Alexandre Lacazette would steal the headlines in the 82nd minute, however, with his 6th goal of the season, as the North Londoners made it 13 games without defeat.

There were a couple of surprises in store for Arsenal at the back before the game, as Héctor Bellerín made his return to the first-team, followed by a first involvement for Sead Kolasinac in the Premier League.

The Bosnian was alert early on to supply Lacazette with a low cross at the near post, with the Frenchman unable to get enough behind his subtle first-time effort to overcome Alisson.

Arsenal unlocked the Liverpool back-line once more in the 14th minute, courtesy of Mesut Özil’s dummy through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who’d see his shot blocked dangerously into the side-netting by Joe Gomez.

The former Borussia Dortmund man turned provider moments later for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 15th minute, popping up alone inside the box before heading just wide in the presence of the on-rushing Alisson.

Liverpool could and should’ve taken the lead through Sadio Mané in the 18th minute, however, as he followed up Roberto Firmino’s effort off the post, but the linesman was quick to chalk the goal off for an incorrect offside decision.

Jürgen Klopp’s men doubled up on the danger posed with a ball over the top for Virgil van Dijk to bring down and take aim at goal, prior to Bernd Leno’s stop.

Arsenal pressed on again in the latter stages of the first half, with Lacazette going close with a shot across goal from an acute angle before van Dijk could offer the Emirates another scare with a flick-on against the post, forcing both sides to settle for the stalemate going into the break.

The Gunners grew further in authority in the second period, but it was Liverpool, against the run of play, who broke he deadlock on the hour-mark, as Milner picked up the scraps from Leno’s miscalculated intervention from a cross to fire in from the edge of the box.

Arsenal replied through Torreira almost immediately, breaking through the Reds midfield before lacking the direction behind his lofted strike to beat Alisson.

Van Dijk threatened again inside the Arsenal area, rising highest in the 74th minute before seeing Leno tip the ball over the bar for another Liverpool corner.

Joy for the Gunners finally came in the 82nd minute, as Alex Iwobi set Lacazette up to take a touch away from Alisson and the goal, before returning to smash a shot deep into the back of the net.

The hosts sensed there was more in the game for them, as Özil layed Bellerín off with a cute cut-back prior to the defender’s curler roaming wide, but neither side would manage to go beyond a 1-1 draw come full-time.

By Patrick Ribeiro (@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: Bernd Leno (6) – Héctor Bellerín (7), Shkodran Mustafi (7), Rob Holding (7), Sead Kolasinac (7) – Lucas Torreira (8), Granit Xhaka (7) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (5), Mesut Özil (7), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7) – Alexandre Lacazette (6)

Subs: Alex Iwobi (7), Aaron Ramsey (6), Danny Welbeck (5)

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

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

(@P_SRibeiro)

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 (-)

MATCH REPORT: LIVERPOOL 3-1 ARSENAL

Arsenal have dropped to as low as fifth place in the Premier League table after losing 3-1 to Liverpool at Anfield this evening.

In a game that was marked by the omission of Alexis Sánchez from the Gunners XI, two first-half goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané placed the hosts in pole position before the interval.

Wenger’s men restored faith with a goal from Danny Welbeck in the second period, but all hope was later extinguished by Georginio Wijnaldum’s killer blow in stoppage time to move Liverpool above Arsenal in the league table.

The sorry mood for the travelling support kicked in as early as the 8th minute at the feet of Mané, whipping a cross into an overloaded area for Firmino to eventually bury his chance with a strike into the roof of the net from close range.

Possession continued to belong to Liverpool deep into the half-hour mark, as Philippe Coutinho forced Petr Čech into action with a shot from the edge of the box.

Mané’s threat from wide areas also proved to be persistent, as he attempted to catch Čech out with an ambitious chip roaming wide of the mark in the 33rd minute.

The Senegalese forward wasn’t to be denied in the 39th minute, however, as Firmino spotted his teammate in space inside the box before the ex-Southampton man left the Arsenal goalkeeper with no chance of stopping a powerful strike into the far corner to double the lead for the hosts.

Arsenal were almost staring at a third Liverpool goal when Adam Lallana’s attempt from range deflected into Coutinho’s path in behind the box, but the Brazilian’s effort was unable to evade the on-rushing Čech on the stroke of half-time.

Wenger turned to Sánchez ahead of the second period, but it was through Olivier Giroud that Arsenal almost found a way back into the game, only for Simon Mignolet to push the Frenchman’s header inside the box onto the bar and smother up the leftovers.

Sánchez did make the difference, however, when slotting a ball through to Welbeck to dink his effort past Mignolet and make it 2-1 in the 57th minute.

The Reds came close to averting Arsenal’s growing influence on the game through a tame Joël Matip header, saved by Čech, whereas it was Divock Origi threatening to land the final blow in the 83rd minute when heading a wide free-kick onto the post.

Despite the warnings, the dreaded third goal eventually came to bite the Gunners, as Lallana’s switch to Origi, racing on from an offside position, saw the Belgian set Wijnaldum for the first-time finish to kill the game off at 3-1 and prolong Arsenal’s winless streak at Anfield in recent seasons.

By Patrick Ribeiro
(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings

Petr Čech (7); Héctor Bellerín (5), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Laurent Koscielny (4), Nacho Monreal (5); Francis Coquelin (4), Granit Xhaka (5), Alex Iwobi (5); Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Olivier Giroud (5), Danny Welbeck (6)

Subs: Alexis Sánchez (7), Lucas Perez (5), Theo Walcott (5)