John Walton

As it happened: Arsenal v Liverpool, Premier League

We were at the Emirates Stadium to see an absolute thriller as the teams shared six goals.

Good evening, folks, and welcome to our coverage of what promises to be a pretty exciting clash. You get the feeling there will be goals in this. The Gunners are one point and one place behind their visitors, so they have the opportunity to leap-frog and reach the top-four.


Let’s start with the home side and Arsene Wenger seems content. The lineup is unchanged from the one that got the better of Newcastle last time out. So, Alex Lacazette is supported by Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi while Jack Wilshere, who is expected to sign a new deal imminently, starts alongside Granit Xhaka while there’s another opportunity for Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back.

Arsenal XI: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette.

Subs: Ospina, Walcott, Mustafi, Welbeck, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny.


The big update from the Liverpool camp is that the Fab Four is reunited for this. Said Mane returns so he’ll provide the pace and energy from out wide. Emre Can is also back so former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum drop to the bench.

Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson, Mane, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino.

Subs: Karius, Wijnaldum, Milner, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

So, two things about the Liverpool lineup. This is the very first time that the quartet of Mane, Coutinho, Salah and Firmino will all start an away game in the Premier League. Also, in seven appearances against Arsenal, Mane has scored four and assisted on two more.

Thinking back to some classic games between these sides and this one instantly came to mind. Thierry Henry’s second goal here is just absolutely magnificent. And yes, before ye start, so too is that pass from Steven Gerrard to Michael Owen.

Here’s Wenger pre-game on Maitland-Niles keeping his place at full-back. Sarah gave Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels a bad dose of ‘twisted blood’ last weekend so the youngster will certainly have to be on his toes.

It is important to be quick against Salah. Maitland-Niles has a lack of experience but I think he has a lot going for him. When you are 20 and you get your chance you have to grab it. You have to go for it. You don’t make your debut at 25. If you haven’t started by 20 it is too late.

“We are an offensive team and they are as well. The result will depend not just on how you attack but how you defend. You need a good defensive performance to keep their players quiet. Ideally you want to score early but you have to be patient.”


A bit of zip early on. Some decent touches from Iwobi and Wilshere in midfield but no openings just yet.

Concern for Liverpool here as Henderson has gone down and is receiving treatment. Looks like he’s coming off. Less than 10 minutes gone here.

SUBSTITUTION! Milner (on) – Henderson (off)

Henderson was chasing Mesut Ozil when he clearly felt a strain on his hamstring and he knew instantly that he was done. With a litany of games coming up, Liverpool could do without such a headache.

Maitland-Niles has been excellent so far and has handled anything Mo Salah has thrown at him. Plenty of time for the Egyptian to still work some magic but it was crucial for the youngster stop start well and he’s done exactly that.

CLOSE! That was a decent chance for Liverpool as Robertson was slipped in on the left side and, in space, sent in a  really dangerous cross. Firmino was just waiting to knock it to the net but Koscielny slid across and made an excellent sliding block.

CLOSE! Robertson is involved again on the left-side and swings in a dangerous cross to the far stick. Firmino has a bit of work to do to try and get some pace on his header but he knocks it towards the near post only for Cech to block.

SO CLOSE! Another chance for Firmino and it’s very nearly the opener. Again it’s a quick raid down the Arsenal right side and Coutinho cuts in, has a look and lofts a delicious delivery towards the back post. Firmino heads it into the ground and tries to send it across Cech to the far corner and it bounce agonisingly wide.

GOAL! Coutinho! 

Well, this time it is a Liverpool header that finds the net. But it’s all too easy. Arsenal push up because it’s a throw for the guests in their own half. But when Salah races into the right channel and Milner finds him, he’s only faced by Koscielny, who backs off. Within seconds, he’s in the box and the defender can’t touch him. He looks to slip a pass inside but takes a deflection off an Arsenal player and loops into the air. Coutinho arrives bang on cue to just deftly knocks it over the advancing Cech and it nestles in the net.

Half an hour gone and Arsenal haven’t created anything. Their build-up is slow and they can’t get any of their key players into the game. There’s nobody showing for the ball and it’s all very, very drab from the home side.

SO CLOSE! Firmino catches the strike superbly and it’s heading towards the top corner. But it just gets a little high and grazes the roof of the net instead. Very, very close. Again. One-way traffic.

This is very true.

Goodness me. It’s like these Arsenal players had their Christmas dinners a few days early. Everything is so laborious and they seem to be completely devoid of any energy.

WHAT A CHANCE! A litany of errors. Koscielny slips and the ball breaks perfectly for Salah to race through. But Cech comes off his line, makes himself big and conjures a decent stop. On the rebound, the ball is falling perfectly for Mane and it looks like Arsenal are certain to concede a second. But he goes for the spectacular and throws himself in the air to lash home the scissors kick. But it’s too high and it’s over the bar! Arsenal survive, just about!


Arsenal have been booed off and rightfully so. They’ve been dreadful and the damage should be a lot worse.

Liverpool have completely dominated and created a number of decent chances. They’ll be frustrated their dominance isn’t properly reflected but unless the home side change things substantially, Jurgen Klopp’s side will get plenty of more opportunities in the second period.


SUBSTITUTION! Mustafi (on) – Monreal (off)

A knock to the ankle means Monreal is forced off. So, that’s both teams having required a change because of injury.

Nothing sums up this game than an incident that just occurred. Arsenal forced a corner – a rare chance to give Liverpool something to worry about. Alexis whips it low to the near post and with one clearance, Salah races clear. He swaps passes with Mane and suddenly he’s in the penalty area but his shot is easily stopped by Cech.

GOAL! Salah! 

Wow. Yes, it’s a quick break and a lovely finish from Salah but what are Arsenal at? They have the ball deep in the Liverpool half, cough it up and the guests knock it down the line. Salah is running inside and Firmino plays it into him. He has a look at goal, and carefully slides a left-footer curling inside Cech’s upright. A slight deflection on its way.

GOAL! Alexis! 

GOAL! Xhaka! 

Goodness me! Two goals in three minutes and after looking absolutely dead and buried, Arsenal are back in this. The first one is a header from Alexis, stealing in front of Joe Gomez at the far post to power home from close range.

The second is an absolute nightmare from Simon Mignolet. Xhaka blasts one from distance and it’s heading straight for the keeper. There’s a little bit of movement on it but he thrashes a limp left hand and the ball deflects into the net. Incredible.

GOAL! Ozil! 



What an absolutely barmy turnaround here. Liverpool have completely fallen apart and Arsenal, somehow, now lead. But what a goal it is from Ozil. He’s been invisible, so quiet, an easy target for abuse. But he slips it into the feet of Lacazette and continues his run. The striker conjures an immaculate back-heel into the path of the German who lifts it over Mignolet. Remarkable!

In the last few minutes, there’s been a Cech save from Mane and a mercurial dribble from Coutinho. So much entertainment. But so much stuff that would make you cry too!

GOAL! Firmino! 

This is insane. Firmino picks it up in the area with a couple of bodies around him. He manages to squirm, turn his body and smack the shot towards goal. Cech gets a massive block on it but only sends it up and over himself. The momentum takes it to the net as the keeper agonisingly tries to get back in time. 3-3. But this could end up 5-5.

CLOSE! Bellerin’s shot is tipped over by Mignolet at his near post and there’s more pressure from the resulting corner. But there’s a foul and some respite for Liverpool.

SUBSTITUTIONS! Welbeck (on) – Iwobi (off) & Wijnaldum (on) – Mane (off)

A change for either side. Mane has struggled tonight and missed a golden chance in the first half.

CLOSE! Alexis gives Mignolet the eyes and whips a low strike towards the near post and almost catches the keeper. There’s a little fumble too but the keeper survives.

SUBSTITUTION! Oxlade-Chamberlain (on) – Coutinho (off)

Boos ring around the Emirates as the former Arsenal player is introduced.

SUBSTITUTION! Walcott (on) – Alexis (off)

A forgotten man at the Emirates. Does he have something special in the locker?

Four minutes of injury time, by the way.


And breathe! It’s the fixture that always delivers and we got plenty of twists and turns this evening. Arsenal were completely done at 2-0 and it really should’ve been more than that too. They were lifeless and could not get going. Liverpool were their usual slick selves on the counter-attack but wasted some good opportunities too. But it all changed when Alexis got in front of Joe Gomez at the back post and pulled one back for the hosts. It seemed to really rattle Klopp’s side and they failed to re-group properly. Within a few moments, it was 2-2 when Mignolet made a complete mess of Xhaka’s (admittedly powerful) shot from distance. Ozil added a brilliant third within a minute to turn the game on its head but Firmino, who was impressive, rescued a point when his strike was too hot for Cech and it looped up and over the keeper, the momentum of the effort taking it to the net.

3-3, an astounding game, some incredible entertainment. But almost a perfect reflection of these two sides and why their supporters are so infuriated for contrasting reasons.

Thanks for staying with us tonight.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

‘Every good player is welcome’ – Barcelona’s doors are open to Coutinho, says Rakitic

Jurgen Klopp discusses Liverpool tenure and says he may leave if club wins silverware

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel