Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal
Liverpool: Salah 29’
Arsenal: Gabriel 4’
With Aston Villa drawing in their game yesterday, a win against Arsenal at Anfield would put Liverpool two points clear at the top of the table. A draw puts them in second place. A loss will keep them in third place.
Cody Gakpo starts up front alongside Mohamed Salah and Luis Díaz. It’s a big opportunity for the Dutchman to be trusted in such a high profile match. The Reds will be without Diogo Jota, Alexis Mac Allister, and vice-captain Andy Robertson again, three consistent starters who likely would have featured in this game otherwise. Hopefully the rest of the team steps up to make the game a more impressive one than against Manchester United last weekend.
Well, that was the worst start possible. Liverpool almost immediately concede through Ibrahima Konaté at the start of the game. They earn an early free kick, and Gabriel’s easy header sails right into the back of the net.
Díaz earned the Reds a corner on the other end. It’s touch and go for a minute, but unfortunately, Arsenal cleared it.
A Liverpool appeal for handball against Odegaard in the box is waved away by the referee without even a VAR check.
Liverpool were struggling to remain calm and build pressure, but it’s eventually Salah who evens the score at 29 minutes, to the joy of the crowd. It starts from an excellent pass by Trent Alexander-Arnold to find Salah. Salah makes easy work on Zinchenko in front of him and puts the ball in the back of the net. Fantastic play all around from the Reds to find a way through.
Kostas Tsimikas looked like he injured his shoulder, which would be a huge, huge blow to the Reds, considering that Robertson is also unavailable. Joe Gomez replaced him at left-back.
A few dangerous minutes where Arsenal picked up successive set-pieces, but Liverpool eventually dealt with it.
Five minutes until halftime, and Arsenal should probably have been ahead again. Alisson blocks Saka, but the ball lands by Martinell, who thankfully shoots wide. It’s a let off for sure. The Reds need to make it halftime and regroup.
The second half started with both teams clearly looking to get out ahead. Liverpool pushed hard, nearly scoring through a break between Salah and Gakpo and then Gomez. The pressure has been pushed up to 11 on the pitch, and the crowd is doing their part to keep them going.
After an hour, there’s still no change on the pitch from Klopp. That was until Díaz and Saka collided, with the Reds’ player left clutching his left knee. Not great. In his place came Harvey Elliott for Liverpool’s first substitution of the evening.
Additionally, it’s Darwin Núñez and Ryan Gravenberch on for Gakpo and Curtis Jones to complete a triple change and try to grab a winner in the last 25 minutes.
Right off the bat, Elliott got in a whipping shot that hit the post and went out for a corner. The delivery was wide, and it led to Arsenal breaking down the other end and a corner of their own. Then that set the break on by Salah all the way back. He sent the ball to Alexander-Arnold. He should have gotten it into the back of the net, but instead it crashed into the crossbar.
Wow. That was a truly wild three minutes of my life.
Gomez continued doing really well. He got another shot. The angle was quite narrow, but it was enough to earn them one corner, followed by another. Núñez headed Alexander-Arnold’s delivery well over the bar.
Saka, who has been reckless the whole game, got away without a second yellow card in the dying minutes of the match. The team and the fans in the crowd are not happy at this easy let off.
Arsenal got another corner which van Dijk cleared.
The game ended with another draw, and it will be Arsenal on top for Christmas. A disappointing result, only made slightly palatable by Aston Villa’s draw on Friday. Things could be bad for Liverpool going forward depending on the health of Tsimikas and Díaz.