Alexis Sánchez 53', Granit Xhaka 56', Mesut Özil 58’
Philippe Coutinho 26', Mohamed Salah 52', Roberto Firmino 71’
A game of two halves, with two teams who appeared to be playing at two completely different speeds, Liverpool were more incisive in the first 45 minutes and could easily have had more goals than Coutinho’s lovely header which saw us leading 1-0 by half time. We were the better team for almost an hour, stifling an Arsenal side who were all over the place and seemed to lack any form of team spirit.
Then, the second half happened. For the neutral supporter, this match will likely be a candidate for match of the season. However, most of the Liverpool fan base will be wringing our collective hands in frustration as once again our defensive frailties let us down. But it’s also worth noting that had our ‘Fab Four’ delivered in totality at their attacking best, this match would easily have been over by half-time.
Arsenal didn’t have much in their arsenal other than counter-attacks and were defensively vulnerable with Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka in midfield and Wenger opting for Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back once again ahead of Sead Kolasinac.
After an impressive first half from the Reds (and an Arsenal side who were booed by their own fanbase at the break), the second half seemed to pick up where the first had left off and Mohamed Salah, who is simply sublime added a second goal to our tally with an awesome shot that was diverted beyond Cech by a deflection off Shkodran Mustafi.
The match appeared to be heading down the same route as our home game earlier this season when Arsenal suddenly came to life in what could only be described as a Christmas miracle for the Gooners’. A minute after Salah’s 21st goal (in all season competitions), Alexis Sanchez found the back of the net with header followed by a Granit Xhaka smash and a lovely finish from Mesut Ozil who dinked his shot over Mignolet (who went down really early at the near post) and within the ludicrous space of five minutes the score suddenly read ARS 3 – 2 LIV.
Xhaka and Wilshere nearly combined to score a fourth and our defence once again was completely lacking. Thankfully neither side had much composure or control of what they were doing, and the tide turned in our favour with a goal from Firmino at 71 minutes.
The final 20 minutes was pure pandemonium as both sides went out guns blazing for all three points but as I’ve come to expect from this fixture, the whistle blew, and the match ended in a deliciously high scoring draw.
Jurgen Klopp summed this one up quite nicely with his post-match comments:
“It’s difficult then and that’s why you have to avoid these situations – and five minutes can be enough to learn from the game, but in this five minutes they scored three times so that then makes it even more difficult. They could have scored once and we are still in the lead and everything is fine.
“We should have scored [more] and we all know that - we don’t have to talk too much about defence because it was not about the defence. Individually it is possible [to make mistakes], but usually not in one night. But we should have scored another four and that’s a big compliment to our team because coming here, playing this kind of football, creating these kind of chances is not easy, but we did it.
“That’s why everyone in this room thinks if there would have been a winner tonight, it should have been Liverpool. Now we have point, so okay, that’s it.”
So. Okay. That’s it.