Liverpool 2: Coutinho 45', Skrtel 90+6'
Arsenal 2: Debuchy 45+1', Giroud 64'
Even as the improvements continue--which they mostly did despite the result--Liverpool still find a way to frustrate, and today it nearly cost them all three points. A terrific first half that was capped with the goal they deserved just before the break washed away by more calamitous set-piece defending to gift Arsenal an equalizer. A solid second half display compromised by an aimless Hollywood ball that lets the visitors break, leading to further defensive mistakes and a one-goal deficit. And then, down to ten men and clearly tired, a set-piece goal of their own in the sixth minute of injury time to rescue a point. Of course.
On the whole Liverpool are looking better across their last three matches, at least in the sense that they've discovered an approach that makes them capable of dominating possession and getting themselves into the final third. What happens when they get there is still anyone's guess, as they're lacking a true finisher and don't appear to have enough confidence or ability to create and finish clear goalscoring chances.
Defensively they are more than capable of conceding them, however, as they allowed Arsenal goals on their first two shots of the match. Both goals are familiar to Liverpool supporters in the past year; the equalizer a result of failing to clear a set-piece delivery at the first time of asking, Arsenal's second a combination of Steven Gerrard's insistence on pinging 60-yard crossfield passes regardless of the consequences and a persistent lack of understanding how defending (and goalkeeping) is supposed to work.
It's all so very difficult in attack and frighteningly easy in defense, and while Rodgers' changes to the shape and personnel appear to have addressed both in some ways, the manager is still a ways off from finding a strategy that makes this Liverpool team consistently effective.
Those that featured today are mostly a mixed bag in terms of whether or not they can help in that regard, with a handful standing out. Lazar Markovic continues to improve and looks as though he can have a significant over the second half of the season, Mamadou Sakho was more assured in just his second appearance back from injury, Philippe Coutinho's uptick in form continues as part of his creative partnership with Adam Lallana, and Raheem Sterling, while clearly not capable of leading the line (at least not yet), was active and energetic for all 90-plus minutes.
They're going to need more than that in the coming weeks and months, however, and they'll need to address longstanding weaknesses in the process. Daniel Sturridge's return will help up front, Rodgers' insistence on playing Brad Jones ahead of Simon Mignolet will end at some point, and reinforcements could well be in the pipeline for January.
Regardless of who is fit or selected or bought, though, Liverpool need to see these improvements through. More positive sentiment over performances is a welcomed change, but the league table demands Liverpool start to gather points. Quickly.