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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019


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Welcome to the first game of the day, and one which is probably the most appealing of the weekend. Both Liverpool and Arsenal have momentum to build on and both should really fancy their chances of that very open fourth place… and possibly beyond. Kenny Dalglish’s side will hope to kick on after the Carling Cup, Arsene Wenger’s after that riproaring comeback against Spurs.

With that in mind, though, it’s worth weighing up the circumstances. When you boil it right down, this is a battle between one of the best defences in the league and one of the best strikers; one of the worst defences in the league and one of the most frugalforward linesin the top half. Given that, it’s hard not to go for a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

As regards that 1-1 prediction, by the by, seven of the last nine here between these teams have been draws.

The teams:

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Jose Enrique, Spearing, Kuyt, Henderson, Adam, Downing, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Carroll, Maxi, Coates, Shelvey, Flanagan, Bellamy.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Song, Walcott, Rosicky, Benayoun, van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Chamakh, Miquel.

The main team news: Van Persie starts, Gerrard doesn’t.

And we’re off.

Liverpool attack with purpose early on, forcing a corner off Thomas Vermaelen.

Bit of a tetchy start so far as both sides test how far they can go with the other.

Walcott fires one at Reina from out wide but the goalkeeper gets a half-decent hand to it. First true effort at goal.

Oh Downing! Liverpool caught Arsenal out with Suarez sent through in a race to the ball with Szczesny. The keeper managed to get there first but could only head it to Downing. Although the opportunity was difficult, however, Downing completely fluffed at it and didn’t even get meaningful contact.

Wasted opportunity for Liverpool. Henderson intercepted an Arsenal move in midfield, setting up a quick break. But the interchange between he and Suarez was poor, allowing Wenger’s defence to get back and sort the problem.

Brilliant from Sagna! Kuyt put Downing through and just as the latter was about to pull the trigger, the full-back stuck in a foot and hooked the ball away.

PENALTY to Liverpool.

With Liverpool in the ascendancy, Suarez plays a fine one-two with Kuyt only to then round Szczesny. The keeper seems to make the slightest contact but Suarez throws himself to the ground. In truth, the keeper gave him the opportunity to do that.


And Szczesny immediately makes amends! A brilliant save as Kuyt drills the ball low to the right. He then gets straight back up and palms away the forward’s rebound. Supreme by the keeper.

GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal

The ball is fizzed across the Arsenal box dangerously meaning Koscielny was in a very awkward position as he tried to clear, ultimately skewing the ball past Szczesny.

And Liverpool rampant at the moment. Liverpool open Arsenal with a fabulous move. Henderson first forces a fine save for Szczesny only for Suarez to then hit the post from a tight angle.

On second viewing, that’s definitely not a penalty. Szczesny even pulled his foot away.

GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal

And there is the danger in Liverpool failing to take their chances when in control. And there is the danger of Robin van Persie. The striker superbly heads home Bacary Sagna’s whipped cross. Sweeping. But not exactly deserved for Arsenal.

Groundhog Day for Liverpool that. How many times have we seen similar this season?

According to @infostradalive, that goal represents Van Persie’s first header of the season and first in 13 months while also proving his first goal at Anfield.

Suarez so close to hitting his first goal since November. Weaved through the Arsenal defence only for Szczesny to get a strong hand on his eventual shot.

Liverpool have last their fizz since the Arsenal goal. Had been well on top before then and playing some flowing stuff. No longer.

Now Kuyt hits the post! An Adam ball is drilled across the box, with the Dutchman meeting it thanks to a deceptive run across the box. He gets the most subtle of touches, ensuring the ball evades the Arsenal keeper and defender but slowly and agonisingly rolls against the post.

HALF-TIME: Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal

Liverpool deserve to be ahead for their play but not for their finishing. Van Persie’s eventual equaliser has altered the dynamics of the game.

The esteemed @zonal_marking sums it up:

Liverpool attack v Arsenal defence – a great contest of ‘Who can shoot themselves in the foot more?’

Second half back under way

And we don’t like to see that. Mikel Arteta has to be stretchered off with an oxygen mask as the players look on anxiously. The Liverpool crowd applaud the former Everton player as he’s taken off.

Arteta suffering from severe concussion, after that blow to the jaw. Hopefully nothing he can’t recover from quickly.

Arsenal much more comfortable in the second half, commanding possession now.

Liverpool have actually barely had a touch in the five minutes since the injury, with Walcott there just blazing over a shot after initially controlling a drilled pass well.

And yet Liverpool almost manufacture the best chance of the half so far. After a corner is cleared, Kelly swings it back in, Skrtel heads it down but Szczesny palms it away before Henderson can steal in.

And now Liverpool almost score an own goal! From a throw-in, Rosicky hooks the ball dangerously across goal but Carragher – who has a bit of a record for own goals inthe past – does superbly to get enough on the ball to head it away but not direct it towards his own goal.

Should have been 2-1 Liverpool! Kuyt whips a superb cross across the box but, just as a slightly ponderous Kelly is about to make contact, Koscielny gets enough on it to get it away. The full-back should have been in there like a steam-train.

A comedy of errors there that should really have seen Arsenal go ahead now!  An admittedly superb ball is playing in behind the Liverpool box by Song. It’s squared back by Gibbs a little behind Walcott. He then shoots wide only for it to hit Carragher and then hit Reina.

On second viewing, to be fair, that was a fine save from Reina.

Not much shape to this in the last half hour but a lot of action. Anyone’s game now. It seems like it’s going to come down to an error.

Arsenal put together a nice combination before Rosicky clips the ball over the top for Walcott. Seemingly somewhat hurried, he tried to head it at goal, giving Reina a comfortable save. In truth, though, he was onside and had a lot more time.

Again, Liverpool fail to spot a real opening as Henderson made an intelligent run. The right pass and that might have been the win.

There’s an amazing stat from Sky: Liverpool haven’t won any of the games that Steven Gerrard has started this season. No more than a statistical quirk, of course.

Dalglish brings on Craig Bellamy for Downing in what had seemed a futile gesture but he’ll have plenty of time to impress: there are eight minutes of stoppage after Arteta’s injury. And, of course, this fixture has some history in stoppage time.

GOAL! Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

And there is yet another stoppage-time incident in this fixture! And what a goal! Van Persie, who else, guides a superb long ball past Pepe Reina with his instep. Liverpool five minutes to rescue a point and potentially their Champions League challenge.

This from @iainmacintosh

The longest Van Persie has gone without a league goal this season is two games. Once in August, once in September.

FULL-TIME: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

And that’s it. An odd game but one that conformed to much of what we knew: Arsenal struggle to defend, Liverpool struggle to finish and Van Persie just keeps on scoring. And that twist might prove telling in the race for fourth. In truth, it’s an awful result for Liverpool, offsetting their victory at the Emirates earlier in the season. Dalglish’s side are now 10 points off fourth with only a game less played. And, after so much chaos this season, Arsenal are favourites again. It’s becoming a campaign that’s impossible to make sense of.