Three apiece for Gunners and Reds
Written By: Robert Halter
Prior to Christmas time at the Emirates stadium, Liverpool had scored at least three goals in each of their four Premier League matches against Arsenal under Jurgen Klopp. On eight minutes, the Reds captain, Jordan Henderson, pulled up injured, and handed the captain’s arm band to Emre Can, before James Milner took over. In the fourteenth minute, after combining with Mohamed Salah, a shot by Philippe Coutinho, flashed past the top of the goal. Midway through the first half, after a deep delivery down the left from Andrew Robertson, a strong header by Roberto Firmino, was clawed behind by Petr Cech, at the bottom right post. It soon followed with a pitch perfect cross by Coutinho, that was headed down and wide of the left post by Firmino. But the Arsenal resistance broke on twenty six minutes, as Salah’s cross clipped off Gunners captain, Laurent Koscielny, and a looping header by Coutinho went past Cech, into the bottom left corner. In the thirty second minute, through an incisive pass by Sane, the ball was whipped narrowly over with a swerving strike by Firmino. There was soon concern for Nacho Monreal, as he fell uncomfortably after giving away a free kick for a foul on Sane. Just before half time, from Coutinho’s threaded pass, a slip by Koscielny, let in Salah, whose high strike in the area, was pushed away by the reaches of Cech, before Sane spun around and tumbled the rebound over the upright. At the start of the second half, Shkodran Mustafi replaced Monreal. From a poor corner by Alexis Sanchez, the Reds broke forward with Sane supplying Salah, whose close range strike was blocked by Cech, at the bottom left corner. Then Salah turned provider to Coutinho, whose shot was nearly turned into his own net by Alex Iwobi. The Reds pressure told on fifty two minutes, as Salah collected the ball down the right from Firmino, before driving the ball past Cech, into the left side of the goal. However, Arsenal bucked up their ideas and pulled a goal back within a minute, when Bellerin’s cross on the right, was headed in by Sanchez from the left side of the six yard box, into the bottom left corner. Incredibly, through an Iwobi assist, a long range fire cracker by Granit Xhaka blasted the back of the net like a rocket to bring the scores level at 2-2, on fifty six minutes. It got better for Arsenal, who found a new belief, as Liverpool switched off, and the Gunners broke with pace through Ozil, who collected a back heel from Alexandre Lacazette, and from the left side of the area, Ozil drove the ball home into the middle of the goal, for a dramatic Arsenal 3-2 turnaround on fifty eight minutes. The Arsenal tails were up, as from a Sanchez lay off, the ball was bent wide of the left post by Xhaka, with sixty one minutes on the clock. It was followed with a Coutinho cross falling to Sane, and Cech made another near post stop. On sixty eight minutes, Ragnar Klavan prevented a fourth, as Iwobi’s pass was put into the danger zone by Hector Bellerin. Although a mistake by Cech let Liverpool in for a third, as Firmino’s strike slipped out of his hands into the net, after Salah’s link up play and then Can’s pass had given Firmino the chance to equalise in the seventy first minute. In the next two minutes, from a Coutinho cross, a Can header in the centre of the goal was saved by Cech. On seventy eight minutes, from Ozil’s pass, the trailing hand of Simon Mignolet, pushed over Bellerin’s rising strike. After the Gunners replaced Iwobi with Danny Welbeck, the Reds switched Mane and brought on Georginio Wijnaldum. A ring of boos greeted the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against his former Gunners, after he took the place of Coutinho. Near the end, Wijnaldum teed up Salah, who could have won the game, but struck the outside netting behind the goal. Theo Walcott then appeared for Sanchez. In stoppage time, Mignolet flapped over an in swinging delivery by Ozil, through Jack Wilshere’s pass. A wayward strike by Ozil ended a thrilling 3-3 draw, after Welbeck’s assist that left both of the teams with a point each.