Gunners end the Reds revival
Written By: Robert Halter
The writing was on the wall for Liverpool, who had won just once in their last eighteen away games at Arsenal, ahead of the match at the Emirates Stadium, early April. In the opening thirty seconds, after Joe Allen lost possession, the ball was slipped through from Mesut Ozil before Alexis Sanchez struck a low drive wide of the left post. Again, four minutes later, Lucas Leiva lost the ball and Francis Coquelin took control before Sanchez’s ball across was met by Santi Cazorla, whose strike was saved by Simon Mignolet. Another mistake was made within two minutes, as Liverpool were half asleep when Kolo Toure gave the ball away, and Mignolet produced a finger tips save from Aaron Ramsey, before Toure hooked the ball out to recover the danger from the advancing Cazorla. But on nineteen minutes, Liverpool broke forward through Allen and Philippe Coutinho but with just David Ospina to beat, Lazar Markovic, drifted a strike past the Gunners shot stopper, but the ball evaded Raheem Sterling on the far side of goal. Two minutes on, the Reds went forward again with Markovic and from Alberto Moreno’s cross, the ball was met by Coutinho, but his effort was forced wide of the left post. The Reds pressurised again, as Markovic won the ball off Cazorla, and Sterling picked up the pieces, before steering a strike past the left post in the twenty fifth minute. But it was Arsenal that got the breakthrough, after Ozil’s pass down the middle, freed Ramsey on the right which provided space for Hector Bellerin to produce a curling effort with his left foot that bent around Mignolet into the far side of the net, with thirty seven minutes played. Then in the fortieth minute, a piece of magic by Ozil put Arsenal in the driving seat, as having been pulled down from Mamadou Sakho, from the resulting free kick, Ozil bent the ball over the Liverpool wall, into the left area of the goal. Just before the break, the Gunners put the game out of sight, as Ramsey’s side splitting pass found Sanchez, who cut inside Toure, before unleashing an unstoppable strike which from outside the box, flew over the top of Mignolet, into the roof of the net. Before the re-start, the Reds replaced Markovic with Daniel Sturridge and early on, the Gunners brought on Gabriel Paulista for Laurent Koscielny. In the fifty first minute, Mignolet comfortably collected from a direct shot at him by Olivier Giroud before a minute later, Sterling blazed over, at the opposing end of the field. In the fifty fifth minute, Giroud tested Mignolet again with a bullet header that was acrobatically tipped over, after a well placed delivery by Ozil. After a further two minutes, Ospina was called into action, to turn behind, a snap shot by Emre Can, after a neat lay off from Sturridge. Arsenal soon made another change of Mathieu Flamini for Ramsey. On sixty three minutes, Can opened up space for Coutinho, who from long range, drilled a shot narrowly past the far post. In a final switch, Danny Welbeck appeared in preference to Ozil. Although on seventy six minutes, referee Anthony Taylor awarded the Reds a spot kick, after Bellerin’s trip on Sterling, and from the penalty, Jordan Henderson, found a way past Ospina, who was unable to smother the strike, as the ball crept past him, into the bottom left corner. On eighty one minutes, Arsenal were back on the ascendancy, as from Giroud’s ball through, Welbeck charged forward but Mignolet stood tall to stifle the opportunity. But with five minutes of normal time left, Can was given his marching orders with a second booking for a foul on Welbeck, having already picked up a yellow for a challenge on Cazorla. It was only the bottom left post that denied the Gunners, as Cazorla’s strike clipped the bottom left post, after Nacho Monreal’s cross from Welbeck’s neat touch. But Arsenal had the final say in stoppage time, when Sanchez paved the way for Giroud, who curled the ball into the left side of the goal. Before the final whistle, Welbeck dragged a shot wide from Cazorla’s lay off to end the Arsenal parade and put them second in the table.