ARSENAL 1 - 1 LIVERPOOL
Arsenal: Aubameyang 17’
Liverpool: Minamino 71’
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only conspicuous absence from the expected starting XI as Liverpool head to Wembley to take on Arsenal.
Liverpool started the match strong, but in a rare lapse that we’ll put down to the pre-season, Alisson Becker lets Aubameyang score on a beautiful strike to the top right corner. Aubameyang celebrates with an homage to the late Chadwick Boseman, who died last night.
The match has become more dicey for the Reds as the early minutes tick by. Neco Williams is having a hard time in his position at right-back. Arsenal have wasted no time taking advantage of this weakness. They have clearly targeted his side as Liverpool’s weak point, with Neco’s inexperience coupled with the absence of PFA Player of the Year Jordan Henderson there to provide cover.
It’s not long before Alisson is forced into a diving save to prevent Arsenal from going 2-0 up at 25 minutes in.
Halfway through the first half, Liverpool have woken up, putting in some semi-decent attacks of their own, which unfortunately yielded little results. But it’s better than them chasing their tails for the previous half an hour.
Our forwards have stepped up, seeing more of the ball as Sadio Mané and Andrew Robertson work together swiftly on the left. There’s a scramble in the box, with head after head knocking the ball into the air until it finally lands at Mohamed Salah’s feet. He attempts a fierce shot on the volley that looks on target but hits squarely into the chest of a diving Arsenal defender.
Mané, Robertson, and Milner have taken control of possession for Liverpool. In quick succession, first Mané and then Robertson both send beautiful balls gliding in front of the box that are cut out by defenders before they find the feet of Salah or Firmino.
Robertson once again gets the ball in the box. It’s glances off of Mané’s head and just misses Virgil van Dijk’s foot for an easy tap-in.
The half ends with Liverpool trailing 1-0, despite some close late efforts from the Reds. I imagine we’ll see some shake up on the right in the second half.
Second half kicks off with Liverpool trailing but no staff changes. Neco sends a ball upfield that David Luiz nearly allows Roberto Firmino to pounce on in the opening minutes, but for now the Reds are still chasing.
Firmino tries a shot in the box that flies wide of the goal. But Liverpool are hunting for their first goal here.
The first big miss of the game comes in the 55th minute when a long ball from, who else, Robertson, puts Mané one on one with the keeper. He attempts to shoot around him instead of chipping it over, and Martinez blocks the shot and then dives over the rebound to end the chance. That was better from Liverpool, and hopefully the kind of golden opportunity that Mané won’t miss later in the season.
Williams and Milner get subbed out in favor of Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita. Fabinho moves to center-back and Gomez goes across to right-back. It looks like Klopp is going for a full throttle last 30 minutes, if this attack-heavy new arrangement is anything to go by.
Saka nearly scores for Arsenal, but Alisson was on it and the shot veers just wide of the mark.
GOALLLLL! It’s Minamino who gets the first goal of Liverpool’s new season in the 71st minute. It comes from some dancing in tight spaces between Minamino and Salah through Arsenal’s box, and ends with Minamino twisting away from Luiz and putting it in the back of the net.
Firmino comes off and Curtis Jones comes on with less than 10 minutes of normal time remaining. Klopp clearly looking for a little bit of that Scouse magic to keep this match from going to pens.
Rhian Brewster replaces Gini Wijnaldum in the one of the last moves in the second half before the whistle blows and we’re sent into penalties.
Liverpool get the advantage of shooting first, and Salah steps up with the ball to go against Martinez. He scores to make it 1-0. Reiss Nelson sends Alisson the wrong way and it’s 1-1.
Fabinho comes up next and surprises no one by slotting it home. 2-1. Maitland-Niles scores to make it 2-2.
Rhian Brewster hits the crossbar and breaks my heart. 2-2. Soarez scores and Arsenal have the advantage at 2-3.
Minamino makes good, tying it back up at 3-3. David Luiz scores, 4-3.
Scouse angel Curtis Jones scores, but Aubameyang wins it for Arsenal, 4-5.
It would have been nice to win, but it’s not so bad to lose. Bring on the Premier League in two weeks.