Liverpool X - Y Arsenal
Liverpool: Salah 42’, Firmino 87’
Arsenal: Martinelli 8’, Jesus 28’
Welcoming the league leaders to Anfield when you’re at a point where you really can’t afford many more slip-ups if you hope to keep the dream of top four alive is fun. What could possibly go wrong?
Liverpool will field a lineup that’s a little light on creativity in the midfield with Curtis Jones preferred to Thiago or Harvey Elliott, and an illness is keeping Núñez out of the XI.
The Gunners will start with a very strong lineup. The Reds have their work cut out for them.
Arsenal get a very early chance off a free kick, but Ibrahima Konaté manages to deflect it out for a corner that comes to nothing.
A few minutes later they open the scoring. Like many of the goals we've seen scored against Liverpool lately, Arsenal attack rapidly and the backline looks completely overwhelmed by their movement and quick passing. Van Dijk had a chance to clear during the rush, but he ends up perfectly touching it right back to Arsenal instead. In the end, Robertson almost gets a touch on the ball as Marintinelli pokes it into the bottom corner, but the Scotsman was a split second too late to prevent the goal.
It's all Arsenal after 20 minutes. Liverpool are mostly just hoofing it up to the front and hoping the forwards can retrieve the ball. Gabriel Jesus very nearly doubles the lead in the 17th minute, but can't keep his finish at the far post down after a perfect ball from Saka from the right wing.
And now Robertson just misses out on an equalizer. Fabinho plays a perfectly weighted pass over the top and Robbo does well to collect it, but he sends his shot just outside the far post.
Paul Tierney, Jürgen Klopp’s favorite referee, actually makes a competent call! On 23 minutes he gives Ben White the game's first yellow for scissoring Diogo Jota down after his slide tackle goes over the top of the ball.
2-0 Arsenal. Liverpool had looked like they may be growing back into it, but Martinelli crosses into Jesus who managed to find space between van Dijk and Robertson and the Brazilian heads it home unchallenged to double their lead. Really poor again from the backline.
Salah gets a chance clean through on goal from the right side, but uncharacteristically pokes it well wide. The vibes are very off.
Granit Xhaka lives up to his reputation as an asshole and goads a retaliatory response from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Both players get booked for their efforts.
Signs of life! Some slick passing by Jones, Jota, and Henderson in the Arsenal box ends with Salah redeeming his previous miss by getting just enough of the ball to finish past Aaron Ramsdale despite a challenge from Gabriel. 2-1 Arsenal now with halftime near.
That's the half. Arsenal were head and shoulders the better side before Xhaka's stupid bullshit seemed to light a fire under a lifeless Liverpool. The goal came almost immediately afterward, and the Reds looked much more assertive for the last few minutes of the half.
Robertson enters the half having picked up a yellow for dissent shortly after the halftime whistle. It appears one of the linesmen raised an elbow towards Robbo’s face after the left-back approached him following the whistle. When LFC players understandably lost their shit over the incident, the incompetent buffoon that is Paul Tierney decided the best course of action was to book Robertson for being elbowed.
PENALTYPOOL!!! After Liverpool fully control the first seven minutes coming out of the break, Jota gets clipped down in the box on a corner kick and Tierney, shockingly, points to the spot.
Oh no. Salah steps up and pushes the spot kick wide of the left post. That's two PK misses in a row for the Egyptian and a huge missed opportunity to level things here.
The challenges are flying in all over because Tierney can't call a game for shit and Fabinho gets a deserved yellow. But, Liverpool continue to control things and Ramsdale does well to deny Salah a second. Arsenal look to be under seige with half an hour remaining.
Thiago is coming on for Jones. The Scouser did well for an hour, but the match shifting to one where Liverpool are hemming the Gunners in should set up well for Thiago to help break them down. Darwin Núñez is also coming on for Jota to introduce a little more chaos.
Arsenal seem to have weathered the storm after 25 minutes. Liverpool still look the likelier side to score, but the visitors are getting some time with the ball in the midfield and final third instead of being completely pinned in their own defensive third like they were coming out of halftime.
Klopp brings on Roberto Firmino to replace Fabinho with 12 minutes left. The two sides have traded half chances for the last 10 minutes or so but neither has looked especially likely to score.
Ahhh that was nearly an equalizer from Darwin. Salah beautifully plays the Uruguayan through, but he can't get his shot underneath a sliding Ramsdale.
BOBBY LEVELS!!! Alexander-Arnold nutmegs Zinchenko to get loose on the end line and then crosses into Firmino who nods it home inside the six-yard box. The Kop erupts into Si Senor. Two minutes plus stoppage time to chase a winner.
Trent goes for glory in the 92nd with a shot from a couple yards outside the box, but he gets underneath it and fails to get it on frame. Salah then gets a chance after Robertson chips over the top into the box, but a defender does well to keep him off balance and the shot goes over off his shin.
Now Ramsdale makes a diving fingertip save to keep out a superb curling effort from Salah. Then a chance for Konaté is saved off the line. Salah collects and goes down with Gabriel draped all over his back, but Tierney says no to another penalty and the final whistle goes.
After 35 minutes it really felt like Arsenal might run away with this one, but a bit of stupidity from Xhaka changed things completely. The Reds clawed their way back and, in the end, looked like they might snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The Reds will be happy with a point after such a poor start, but it’s hard to not feel like they should have taken all three with the way the match ended.