Arsenal and Liverpool serve up a highly entertaining encounter in the capital but neither side can find the net…
Kop boss Brendan Rodgers made three changes to his starting eleven with Lucas Leiva, Emre Can and Roberto Firmino replacing Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (both injured) and Jordan Ibe.
Liverpool started brightly with Christian Benteke missing an early half chance before Philippe Coutinho rattled the crossbar.
It didn’t take long for Arsenal’s vast array of attacking talent to shine through though as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil began to grow in prominence.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead in the 9th minute but, for a second consecutive week, Liverpool got lucky with an offside decision as Aaron Ramsey’s strike was wrongly chalked off.
At the other end a brilliant last ditch tackle from Francis Coquelin was needed to deny Coutinho an almost certain opener as the Gunners’ makeshift centre-back pairing of Callum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista began to look increasingly vulnerable.
Both sides continued to carry a substantial threat as the half progressed despite neither goalkeeper being forced into many noteworthy saves (that would soon change).
Liverpool enjoyed a dominant spell around the half hour mark, largely off the back of a dominant showing from Benteke, but stand-in captain James Milner and Coutinho failed to capitalise on the best of the openings created.
Benteke should finally have opened the scoring in the 39th minute but the Belgium international was somehow denied by Peter Cech from close range.
Brazilian duo Firmino and Coutinho were also impressively denied by Cech before the interval, the latter showing exquisite footwork to create the space for a curling effort which the former Chelsea shot stopper spectacularly tipped onto a post.
The second period began at a similarly frantic pace although Arsenal were looking far more assured than they had at the end of the opening 45 minutes.
A distinct improvement in the accuracy of their passing was central to a massive swing in the possession and territory stakes as Sanchez missed a great chance to fire the hosts in front on the hour mark.
Giroud was then inches away from getting on the end of a Ramsey cut-back before Simon Mignolet produced a fine save to paw away another attempt from the Frenchman.
An inspired run by youngster Joe Gomez led to an effort from distance by Milner but Arsenal were totally dominating at this stage and it seemed just a matter of time before Liverpool’s rearguard would finally be breached for a first time this season.
Ramsey again tested Mignolet in the 72nd minute before Jordan Rossiter became the third teenager on the pitch for the visitors after replacing Lucas (alongside Gomez and fellow substitute Jordan Ibe who had come on for Firmino shortly before).
Liverpool finally began to wrestle a semblance of control back with around 10 minutes to go; Coutinho warming the palms of Cech and Benteke appearing to be blocked off illegally by Gabriel in the box.
It was short-lived though and Martin Skrtel was inches away from scoring an own goal with five minutes left.
Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also went close in stoppage time but somehow the scores remained level.
How did that remain goalless? Before the game I would certainly have settled for a point but there is a slight sense of what might have been given the amount of chances we missed during a dominant first half. Arsenal unsurprisingly improved after the break and at times we were left hanging on. All things considered then, a draw was probably a fair result, especially with the hosts having a legitimate goal overturned. Regardless of who deserved the three points more, it was an impressive performance from the visitors which mixed pace, power and tenacity and it all points to an exciting future. There were stand-out individual showings from front to back as we kept a third consecutive clean sheet, harassed and pressed in the middle of the park and managed to harness guile and intelligence to Benteke’s dominant solo work going forward.
Joe Gomez – The 18-year-old stood up to everything the star names of Arsenal could throw at him. Technically sound and composed under pressure, Gomez also showed plenty of positive intent going forward. Unbelievably impressive for someone so young and with such little senior experience. The former Charlton Athletic player is looking an absolute steal at just £3.5m.
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez, Lucas (Rossiter 76′), Can, Milner, Firmino (Ibe 63′), Coutinho (Moreno 88′), Benteke.
Unused subs: Bogdan, Sakho, Origi, Ings.
So that’s what we thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your verdict below or vote in our MOTM poll to the right…
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