An injury-plagued Liverpool side fought it out for the whole 90 minutes with a lackluster Arsenal side. Liverpool dominated possession and had more shots on target, and opened the game up well. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino made it 1-0 in the 10th minute with a tidy finish after Emre Can had his shot saved by Petr Cech. Arsenal immediately responded out of absolutely nothing, after Joel Campbell played Aaron Ramsey through on goal and he squeezed the ball in under the arms of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Liverpool piled on the pressure after that, and in the 24th minute Roberto Firmino secured his brace with a world-class, magnificent finish from the edge of the box into the top corner. That will definitely be a contender for goal of the season come May. However, Arsenal responded once again by winning a corner which Olivier Giroud was able to squeeze in at the near post. Arsenal were aided by really poor defending of a corner by Liverpool, and so the game went into halftime level. It was a high-intensity half from both teams, and it left the fans wanting more in the second half. And as craved, the second half started with as high intensity as the first half. Arsenal took the lead in the 54th minute, after Giroud turned brilliantly and fired into the corner. But, just as the game looked to be sealed, a ball by Jordan Henderson was sent into the box, headed up by Christian Benteke, and volleyed into the back of net by Joe Allen. And that was that as the two Premier League heavyweights shared the spoils in an enthralling encounter at Anfield.Manager Reactions:
Jurgen Klopp: He showed the Premier League, and more importantly Arsenal, why he was brought into the Premier League by Liverpool. For a club riddled with injuries, Klopp put together a Liverpool side who held the Premier League leaders to on point.
“We started so good and played so good football. It showed all of us how good we could be.
“Then we concede a goal from a set play and we have to work at it. Organisation is one thing and sometimes we have a little problem with concentration.
“We gave them two easy goals after we had to work really hard for our goals. We had many moments which I am happy with.
“At 3-2, both teams had a low battery. We scored with a perfect pass, perfect header, perfect finish and nobody doubts it was deserved.
“I have no problem with the number of games, the problem is we don’t have enough players for the number of games.” (BBC)
Arsene Wenger: On the day that marks 20 years as Arsenal manager, Wenger disappointed Arsenal fans, to an extent, for not grabbing the three points at Anfield, despite being up a goal until the 90th minute. But, getting points on a cold, rainy, snowy night in Anfield is still pushing title hopes forward.
“I’m very disappointed but, overall, I cannot fault the effort and commitment of the team.
“We had a difficult start. At 3-2, we should have made it 4-2 and didn’t make the right decision in final third.
“Liverpool fought until the last second.
“I felt we had an apprehensive start. We had some bad memories from a few years ago and you could still see that in some players. We went 1-0 down and then we started to play. We come out of the game with a lot of positive but still some regrets.” (BBC)
Man of the Match:
Roberto Firmino: This summer transfer has truly been worth the money for the first half of the season, and put up another brilliant performance tonight at Anfield. For the first 20 minutes of this match, it was simply the “Firmino Show.” However, this form continued throughout the game, keeping Liverpool pushing on.
Kolo Toure: B+ -The veteran marshalled the defence very well, however he and Mamadou Sakho did concede three goals. Olivier Giroud was hassled and had his hands full all night, which is a testament to the commitment of the Ivorian.
Jordan Henderson: A -The captain, Henderson, was the driving force of the team throughout the match and really epitomized what a captain should be. His work on and off the ball is recognized by all, and he is finally looking like a worthy replacement to the legend Steven Gerrard who left the club over the summer.
Roberto Firmino: A+ -What can you say about a man who scored such a beauty against a world-class keeper in Petr Cech? His work on the ball was brilliant, and he looks like a man who has finally come to terms with life in the Premier League. In the absence of such influential players like Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, Firmino has helped fill the void very well. This game was his best since the 4-1 demolition of Manchester City.Arsenal–
Nacho Monreal: B -We saw a disappointing overall defensive performance by Arsenal, but Nacho Monreal showed up ready to compete. He shut down the young speedster, Jordan Ibe, who could have easily made a bigger impact without Nacho blocking his every move.
Aaron Ramsey: B+ -Arsenal were struggling to even keep the ball in Liverpool’s half before Aaron evened up the score with a neat finish, put between Mignolet and the near post. But, throughout the match, Ramsey kept a struggling Arsenal side in the game through his decisive midfield play.
Olivier Giroud: A -Giroud met, or even superceded pre game expectations, grabbing a brace. The first goal was a smart flick on which ended up surprising Simon Mignolet and bouncing in. The second goal was a phenomenal bit of play off of a deflected pass. Giroud turned brilliantly and finished bottom left corner, away from Mignolet.
Article Written by Mihir Shah and Peter McDermott