When Arsenal visit Anfield it’s rarely a disappointment and yesterdays’ thrilling 3-3 draw had just about anything you’d ever want to see in a game of football including a dramatic late goal that not only dented the Gunners chances of winning the Premier League title, but bolstered Liverpool’s claims for a top-four finish.
While he’s struggled for consistency since moving from Hoffenheim in the summer, Roberto Firmino has turned out his best performances against top class opposition and he continued that trend in kind when he was on hand to open the scoring after Arsenal ‘keeper Petr Cech could only parry Emre Can’s stinging effort into the path of the Brazilian. The visitors were quick to hit back in fine fashion through Aaron Ramsey, latching on to a pass from Joel Campbell that eluded both Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho, and the Welshman equalized with a flourish -– all this before 15-minutes had even been played.
Before 20-minutes was up Firmino would again give Liverpool the lead with an astounding curling effort from the top of the box that gave Cech no chance and before the half hour mark Olivier Giroud would pull the Arsene Wenger’s men level once again when he got the slightest of touches to turn a corner past Simon Mignolet at the near post in a calamitous bit of goaltending.
“We have to defend set-plays better; it’s an easy thing to say but we have to work on it and we will work on it,” said Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, stating the obvious following the final whistle. “We will analyse it, of course, and we have to do it better,” conceded the German. “We lost control and it wasn’t too easy, we lost the ball easily. They are strong on counter-attacks, everybody knows this and so we had to defend.”
That, for the Anfield outfit, is often easier said than done. Giroud had the chance to add to his tally before the break, but the 29-year somehow missed an open net from a mere-12-inches out and Firmino, on the turn in the box, saw what should have been a first-half hat-trick skim the top of the bar as the two sides went into the half on level terms. I don’t think anyone was surprised when that didn’t last for long.
Giroud may have missed a sitter, but the Frenchman would atone for his sins 10-minutes after the restart, turning Toure with magnificent precision before rifling a low shot into the far corner with Mignolet, who is set to sign a new five year contract before the end of the month, looking equal parts helpless and hopeless. Arsenal, as they quite often do, failed to capitalize on their advantage and hunkered down in their own half, finally succumbed to the insurmountable pressure a tireless Liverpool were piling on them when Joe Allen turned home Christian Benteke’s header in the 90th minute to send Anfield into raptures and Klopp into wild celebrations on the touchline — giving you yet another reason not to leave the football early.
“I’m very disappointed but, overall, I cannot fault the effort and commitment of the team,” said Wenger in his post-match chat with the press. “We had a difficult start,” explained the veteran manager. “At 3-2, we should have made it 4-2 and didn’t make the right decision in the final third,” he continued, before praising the Reds endeavor. “Liverpool fought until the last second.”
Three-points are better than one, but one is better than none – especially against a team that’s lost only once in their last eight matches, but that is right in the mixer for the title. When you consider that Wenger has built this team over the last five years and Klopp has been working with this side, who was built by someone else and is missing a number of key components, for only four months, everyone whinging about this on social media looks that much more daft, don’t they?
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