Liverpool hold fort at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal faced Liverpool on a Monday night at the Emirates, late August. In the opening two minutes, the Reds’ Emre Can played in Christian Benteke, whose first time snatch shot found the outside netting of the left post. But a minute later, Arsenal had a lucky escape when Philippe Coutinho, struck a right footed effort against the underside of the crossbar, after exchanging passes with Benteke. In the fifth minute, the Gunners responded with a floating cross by Nacho Monreal on the far left, but Alexis Sanchez was unable to find the target as he put his header over the crossbar. Three minutes later, as Santi Cazorla put Aaron Ramsey clean through, he rolled the ball into the net, only to find his goal was ruled offside. But Liverpool broke again up field, as Petr Cech, smothered a strike by Benteke. Midway through the first half, Benteke was disposed from a strong challenge by Francis Coquelin, as he advanced into the box. In the twenty fourth minute, a mistake by Calum Chambers was pounced upon by Coutinho and as Gabriel Paulista challenged the Liverpool captain, James Milner, he still got a side footed shot away which Cech, scrambled away from the left corner. But on thirty nine minutes, Cech produced a heroic point blank save to stop Benteke’s close range attempt at goal, from Roberto Firmino’s low cross and from an assist by Milner from the resulting corner, Cech had to be at his best again to beat away a strike by Firmino from the right side of the area. Just before the break, Coutinho was again denied by the woodwork, with a curling strike against the far post, as Cech managed to push the ball against the right frame of the goal, after Benteke’s header had created the opportunity. Arsenal threatened at the start of the second half, as Simon Mignolet had to punch away a floating ball in from Monreal. On fifty seven minutes, a neat touch by Sanchez found Giroud unmarked, but the Gunners front man, dragged his shot wide. Before the hour mark, it was Arsenal who were denied by the stanchion as Cazorla started the move and after Giroud won the ball in the area, Sanchez struck the ball against the outside of the left post. But Liverpool responded a minute later, when Lucas Leiva gave the ball to Coutinho, whose low drive was collected by Cech. The Reds made the first change by switching Firmino with Adam Bogdan. But on sixty five minutes, Joe Gomez had to hook the ball clear and avert the danger imposed by Ramsey, who had been set up by Sanchez. Midway through the half, Monreal found space for Giroud, but Martin Skrtel managed to make a saving tackle. In the seventieth minute, Mignolet was at full stretch, to palm away a strike from Giroud in the box, who had been set up by Ramsey. After weathering the storm, Liverpool went close again a minute later, from a move by Emre Can before Milner’s low shot was stopped by Cech, But Arsenal responded in the seventy second minute, as from Giroud’s touch, a curling strike by Ramsey, was clutched out of the air from Mignolet. The Gunners then took off Giroud with Theo Walcott featuring before Liverpool brought on Jordan Rossiter for Leiva. In the eight first minute, Liverpool rallied as Cech had to beat away Coutinho’s effort in the danger zone from Gomez’s assistance. Arsenal then changed Coquelin with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and as the Gunners pushed for a late winner, Ramsey’s strike from outside the box was driven in low and Mignolet had to snatch the ball away from inside the left post, after Cazorla had provided the opening. Liverpool made another change with Alberto Moreno for Coutinho. Another important punch clear by Mignolet fended away an in swinging cross from Monreal. But at the end, Paulista made a saving tackle to keep out the advancing Moreno. As the game drew to a close, Mignolet secured a point with a full length save to stop Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stinging low strike, from Walcott’s pass and as Paulista skied a header from a Mesut Ozil cross, the deadlock could not be broken as the game remained at stalemate.