Liverpool Salvage a Draw from the Jaws of Defeat
Liverpool 3 (Firmino 10′, 19′, Allen 90′) – Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14′, Giroud 25′, 55′)
It was going to be one of those nights when the atmosphere was going to dictate the proceedings on the pitch. Anfield is a difficult ground to come to and despite Arsenal’s impressive record against Liverpool in recent times, this game was going to be another test of the team’s title credentials. Much was made about Liverpool’s fitness issues but Arsenal had their own injury problems they have been contending with, so in my opinion, it wasn’t enough and I braced myself for a good game of football.
The home side opened the scoring after some poor defending and I must say, questionable goalkeeping from the legendary Petr Cech. The Czech goalkeeper parried a shot straight at Roberto Firmino’s path. The Brazilian’s shot left the goalie flat-footed and put the home side ahead. Arsenal weren’t downcast after conceding so early and they equalized when Aaron Ramsey reacted quickly to a cushioned Joel Campbell pass to blast the ball past Simon Mignolet.
Both teams continued to attack each other and Liverpool went ahead again when Firmino curled the ball from the edge of the area giving Cech no chance. The Gunners leveled the contest again when Olivier Giroud attacked the ball on the near post and it went between Mignolet’s legs to make it 2-2. Just before halftime, Arsenal hit Liverpool on the break with Campell feeding Theo Walcott in behind the defense. Walcott sent an inch-perfect pass to Giroud and all he had to do was tap the ball in but this happened…
One of the most shocking misses you’d ever see. It probably up there with Gervinho’s miss against Bradford, Robin van Persie’s miss against Sevilla, Tomas Rosicky’s miss against CSKA and Yakubu Aiyegbeni’s miss against South Korea.
Going into the break at 2-2, Arsenal fans kept half an eye on the proceedings at the Etihad Stadium and White Hart Lane. Eventually, Manchester City had a goalless stalemate with Everton while Leicester surprisingly grabbed all three points against Tottenham.
Going into the second half, Arsenal attacked with incisiveness and got the goal their play diserved when Giroud latched onto a loose ball before volleying on the turn. For all the criticism he has received from his own fans and media alike, Giroud has been shutting people up with some virtuoso performances. That was also his 18 goal of the season, just four below his personal best of 22 for the club. At this rate, you can bet your smart money that he could hit the 30-goal mark if he stays fit.
Players got tired with the constant collective defending so change was inevitable. Kieran Gibbs replaced the ineffectual Walcott while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the hardworking Campbell. These players were tasked with protecting their fullbacks and while Gibbs did his bit to offer some help to Nacho Monreal that was getting torn apart by Jordon Ibe and Nathaniel Clyne. The Ox didn’t offer much aid to Hector Bellerin.
With Liverpool pressing for the equalizer, they were bound to leave spaces at the back and Arsenal had the opportunity to instigate a counter attack that fell to the Ox’s path. All he had to do was to send a cross field ball to the left hand side of the pitch and Arsenal might have just been home and dry to make it 4-2, but no, the dullard chose to dally some more on the ball and as expected, he lost possession to the opposition. Moments like that define games and with more torrid performances, Chamberlain is showing that he cannot be trusted to stake a claim for a starting berth.
With barely seconds to go, the sucker punch happened. Christian Benteke hurled the ball into the danger area and the Welsh Pirlo, Joe Allen, fired a shot that Cech couldn’t parry to salvage a draw for the hosts. 3-3. Sadness, despair, anguish, rage… all sorts of negative emotions filled me up and I’m sure every other Arsenal fan felt the same way.
The manager was frustrated from his post-match conference but while a draw feels so bad, it was a fair reflection of the game but Arsenal would have made a very huge statement if they had won at Anfield. But here we are, level on points with that Leicester that is becoming a thorn.
We play Stoke in the weekend.
Till then, let’s wait for some good news on Elneny. The manager is hopeful that he could be in the matchday squad that would travel to the Britannia.
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