Goals galore as Reds beat Gunners
Written By: Robert Halter
In the opening match of the 2016/17 Premier League season at the Emirates stadium, Arsenal hosted Liverpool with the Reds looking to improve on their record of just one win in their last nine league meetings with the Gunners. In the seventh minute, Alex Iwobi’s combination with Alexis Sanchez, ended with a toe poke by Aaron Ramsey, straight into the Reds keeper, Simon Mignolet. In the thirteenth minute, the Gunners captain and shot stopper, Petr Cech, was tested for the first time with a low drive by Nathaniel Clyne on the right flank, after collecting a pass from Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson. Midway through the first half, Ramsey tried an attempt from the half way line but the ball sailed over Mignolet, and above the crossbar, but on twenty three minutes, a well delivered cross from Henderson, required alert defending by Hector Bellerin, to stifle the threat of Roberto Firmino, at the far post. Two minutes later a half chance fell to Firmino, but his strike towards the bottom right side of the box was intercepted by Calum Chambers, after Adam Lallana had started the move. But on twenty eight minutes after Theo Walcott was brought down by Alberto Moreno, from the resulting penalty awarded by referee, Michael Oliver, a save to the right by Mignolet kept out Walcott’s spot kick, but Walcott made amends for his miss three minutes later, as after Lallana was caught in possession by Francis Coquelin, a pass down the middle from Iwobi, was latched upon by Walcott, who drove the ball past Mignolet, into the far left corner of the net. A mistake by Chambers opened the door for Liverpool, as Sadio Mane pushed forward but from Philippe Coutinho’s pass on the left, a first time shot by Georgino Wijnaldum, was smothered by Cech, in the fortieth minute. But on the stroke of half time and the second minute of stoppage time, the Reds drew level, after Rob Holding was penalised for hanging onto Coutinho, and a bending free kick from Coutinho, curled into the left side of the net. In a dramatic turn around, Liverpool went 2-1 ahead, four minutes into the second half, when from a delivery by Wijnaldum on the left side of the area, the ball was turned past Cech on the right by Lallana, with a superbly taken finish. It got worse for Arsenal on fifty six minutes, as Coutinho grabbed his second of the match, when Clyne’s cross on the right flank was despatched by Coutinho, as he raced into the box and tucked the ball away. Within two minutes, the Liverpool dominance continued with a cut back from Firmino and only Cech’s instinctive save denied Coutinho a hat trick, before Moreno could not convert the follow up from close range. Arsenal then switched Iwobi with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before Santi Cazorla replaced Ramsey, with both payers changed due to injury. But the Reds did get a fourth, as from an assist by Lallana, a solo goal was produced by Mane, who drifted past Chambers and Nacho Monreal, before bending a strike into the top right part of the net, in the sixty third minute. Although a minute later, the Gunners struck back, when from a Cazorla pass, Oxlade-Chamberlain raced past Clyne and Lallana, then beat Henderson before tucking the ball away into the bottom left corner off Wijnaldum. Granit Xhaka then made his home Arsenal debut in favour of Mohamed Elneny, while Coutinho limped out the game, and the Reds brought on Emre Can. But the Gunners fought back in the seventy fifth minute, after Clyne clipped Coquelin, and a long range free kick from Cazorla was converted by a header from Chambers. Liverpool then took off Lallana for Divock Origi. But the Reds were again fast on the break in the eighty fifth minute, when Wijnaldum supplied Firmino, whose shot deflected off Monreal into the outside netting of the right post, before the Reds took off Wijnaldum for Kevin Stewart. At the end, a shot by Henderson was deflected over the top by Bellerin, from an Origi assist, as Liverpool recorded a 4-3 away win for just their second victory in their twenty first attempt at Arsenal in all competitions.