Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool
0-1 Suarez (5), 0-2 Henderson (60), 1-2 Giroud (64), 2-2 Walcott (67)
Arguably for both sides this game was a microcosm of their season so far.
For us all too often we’ve seen progress measured by taking two steps forward and then one back. In this case it was three points on the table and seeing two taken back although clearly this was an improvement on Sunday, just turning up probably ensured that!
I think it would be fair to say that this game never had 0-0 written all over it. Sure enough Arsenal, what generous hosts they were, let us take a two goal lead via what can only be described as calamitous defending only to finally get their act together to get back in the game. Deep down, even at 2-0, I suspect many reds knew this was coming but we still could have won at the end and both sides, perhaps us more so given our lead, were surely ruing a missed opportunity?
It was no surprise that BR made some changes from Sunday, seven of them. The main ones – Martin Skrtel paid the price for his performance on Sunday, Jamie Carragher, who should have played in that game, started. Glen Johnson returned from injury however Jose Enrique, also fit, wasn’t risked meaning Andre Wisdom kept his place. Jose Reina replaced Brad Jones.
For us the start couldn’t have been any better just as the defending for Arsenal couldn’t have been any worse. After five minutes or so we broke, Sagna, who had clearly failed to change out of his flip flops slipped and allowed Johnson to advance down the left. Vermaelen failed to deal with his cross allowing Sturridge to collect. Szczesny blocked the shot however Henderson squared the rebound to Suarez whose effort went in off another one of Arsenal’s Keystone kops?
As expected both sides traded blows. Arsenal continued to be generous at the back whilst pressing to right Suarez’s “wrong”. Reina did well to deal with two efforts from Walcott whilst Sturridge, after a sublime long range ball from Suarez, should done better than the weak first time effort that rolled past Szczesny’s right hand post. Agger should have extended our lead with a header however, with Szczesny away on walkabout, Podolski’s goal line clearance came to the rescue. This continued as the keeper charged off his line to present Henderson with a great opportunity to chip him. He did but only found the roof of the net.
It could have gone ether way, both sides had good penalty claims turned down Vermaelen’s handball, in a tussle with Sturridge, being blatant. However, when we attacked one always thought a goal was on the cards we looked bright partly due to our positive play but also Arsenal’s sloppiness. Despite this no one would have predicted the manner in which we got finally got our second.
Henderson collected the ball from Sturridge on the edge of the area squirmed between Santos and Mertesacker, somehow kept hold of it after Ramsey challenged and prodded it home with Sagna arriving too late. A bizarre goal all Henderson did was move forward with determination but not much trickery but four Arsenal defenders plus the keeper couldn’t keep him out!
Game set and match perhaps? Our determination and grit was underlined by Jamie Carragher taking Podolski’s slamming free kick full on in the ribs. However, Arsenal finally managed to make some punches really tell, Giroud headed home Wiltshire’s free kick and minutes later Walcott squared it with a shot from the right that beat Reina for pace.
Commendably, and excitingly for the neutrals, both sides continued to go at it. Giroud missed a sitter from around three feet out and red heads were in hands when Cazorla’s dangerous cross into the six yard area and across the goal didn’t find an Arsenal boot. Suarez nearly nicked it at the end however, for once, Szczesny was up to it.
So plenty for each manager to think about, some good, some bad. I doubt BR will admit it but although there were positives, it was result that probably didn’t please either manager. Wenger’s problems are his however BR, despite being buoyed by the way we took the game to Arsenal and got two up, will be disappointed by the way we let them back into the game either by not taking more chances or letting Arsenal come at us in the second half. Good in parts but, once the bad bits are viewed; it is easy to appreciate why both sides are where they are?
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker Booked, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Santos – 37′ ), Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey, Cazorla Booked, Podolski, Giroud Booked Substitutes: Mannone, Koscielny, Santos, Jenkinson, Diaby, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Wisdom, Gerrard Booked, Henderson, Downing, Lucas, Suarez, Sturridge (Jose Enrique – 71′ ) Substitutes: Jones, Jose Enrique, Skrtel, Allen, Sterling, Shelvey, Borini