One of the most dramatic games in recent memory ends in a scintillating 3-3 draw…
Liverpool and Arsenal threw caution to the wind at the Emirates on Friday night in a game that showcased everything that is both good and bad about Jürgen Klopp‘s Reds.
An even opening 15 minutes saw both sides full of energy and purpose; eager to harry the opposition when out of possession and keen to move the ball quickly when in possession.
Neither keeper was unduly troubled initially however, while the visitors were temporarily hamstrung by the loss of captain Jordan Henderson to an early injury.
Andrew Robertson was a constant outlet down the Liverpool left and a great cross from the full-back produced the first attempt on target as Petr Čech parried a Roberto Firmino header around the post for a corner.
The Brazilian had another good headed opportunity moments later, this time following an excellent Philippe Coutinho delivery, but he failed to find the target.
A header did soon break the deadlock however when the unlikely source of Coutinho glanced home a deflected 26th minute Mohamed Salah pass that looped up invitingly off Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal responded positively to falling behind and the game quickly turned into the exciting, end-to-end affair it looked like being on paper pre-kick-off.
The visitors continued to carry the far greater threat though, with Firmino inches away from curling in a spectacular shot from outside the box and Sadio Mané fluffing his lines from much closer in.
The men in luminous orange had two great chances to double their lead in the closing minute of the half but Salah surprisingly failed to take either, while Mané should also have done better with a follow-up effort to the first Salah miss.
Chances continued to flow for the Merseysiders at the start of the second half as they continually tormented Arsenal on the counter-attack.
The second goal their play deserved finally arrived in the 52nd minute when Salah and Firmino combined and the former, with the aid of a slight deflection, curled past Čech.
What should have been a telling moment in favour of Liverpool turned out to be quite the opposite though as Joe Gomez switched off at the back post 40 seconds later and Alexis Sánchez snuck in to head home a Héctor Bellerín cross.
Arsenal were instantly transformed by their unlikely lifeline and pulled level in the 56th minute when a powerful Granit Xhaka strike from distance deceived a flapping Simon Mignolet.
An already crazy encounter then took a further twist when Arsenal suddenly went in front with their third strike within an unfathomable five minute spell, this time it was less self-inflicted from the visitors as Mesut Özil delightfully added the finishing touch to a deft back-heel through by Alexandre Lacazette.
388 seconds were all that had elapsed between Liverpool going 2-0 ahead and falling 3-2 behind.
Many teams would have been stunned and unable to respond to such a dramatic turn of events but not Klopp’s Liverpool who were straight back on the front foot.
Mané quickly went close to levelling for the visitors but his first-time effort was too close to Čech.
If Mignolet was at fault for Arsenal’s second then his opposite number was equally culpable as the game ebbed back towards Liverpool in the 71st minute when a Firmino effort squirmed in despite the former Chelsea man getting a firm hand to it.
Both sides had further opportunities in the reminder of the game as the insane tempo failed to relent despite a number of substitutions and tactical tweaks.
Ultimately both sides had to be content with a point and the knowledge they had been involved in a true Premier League classic.
Attempting to make sense of the madness at his post-match press conference, Klopp unsurprisingly rued the individual errors that had aided Arsenal in turning around a game his side looked to be in control of.
“The result is not what we wanted,” analysed the German. “But the performance for 89 minutes was what we wanted. We played 94 minutes [with added time] and the five minutes were very decisive tonight and difficult to explain, but good to learn from because we need to react differently.
“As individual players, we need to react differently in situations like this – you need to be much angrier than sad or disappointed. So we gave them [a chance], we opened the door for them in these five minutes and they, with all respect, took the chances. And then in this strange game, everybody probably thought first, ‘this is Liverpool’s night’ and then after these five minutes everybody thought ‘now it’s Arsenal’s night’.
“Then we struck back and it’s a point; usually if you go to Arsenal and get a point it is absolutely OK, we are not crazy that we cannot see that, but tonight it is different.”
The result means Liverpool remain above the Gunners in fourth by a single point.
Klopp and his players are next in action on Boxing Day when they host bottom side Swansea City at Anfield.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
Click here to see comprehensive match stats
Follow me on Twitter @superbag
|At Vital Liverpool we’re always looking for contributors so if you’re an LFC fan who wants to share his or her opinion with the masses, simply email articles/blogs to firstname.lastname@example.org|