Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 28 September 2021


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Good afternoon. The Reds will be desperate to pick up a positive result against a high-profile side and get back in the top-ten while Arsene Wenger’s side will hope to keep their recent good form going. 

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail eoin@thescore.ietweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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So, no Mario Balotelli for Liverpool – he’s suspended for that, ahem, social media gaffe. Mamadou Sakho replaces the injured Dejan Lovren – probably a good thing if the ex-Southampton man’s recent performances are anything to go by. Lucas starts in midfield.

Mathieu Debuchy is in for Arsenal while Calum Chambers is back from suspension.

At lot has happened since Liverpool unceremoniously thumped Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield back in February. Apologies for bringing up such a horrible memory, Gunners fans, but what an incredible opening twenty minutes it was.

Probably best for Wenger’s side to tighten up on set-pieces this afternoon. But, let’s face it, they probably won’t.

Source: Diego Martinez Canterod/YouTube

Already some good news for Sterling this afternoon. He scored a brace against Arsenal back in February. Will he cause more torment today? What do you make of him through the middle, Liverpool fans?

Here’s what Rodgers had to say pre-game. Worrying reference to Bournemouth being an excellent side, though.

It’s been a struggle this season trying to find the balance; there is no doubt about that. But over the last few weeks the players have been working hard to get to that level again.

“Any player will tell you, you have to have that confidence – that ultimately breeds success. [In the League Cup against Bournemouth] we had an excellent performance. Bournemouth are an excellent side, and everybody saw that as a potential banana skin for us, but the level of our football was really good. It is a different challenge today.”

In the Sky studios, Craig Bellamy says this is a must-win for Liverpool. I wouldn’t agree. I’d say it’s a must-not-lose for them. Agree? Disagree?

Teams are on the pitch. Surely it can’t be anything else than nice and tight for the first 15 minutes?


And we’re off! Here we go! An early foul on Sterling and an early free-kick for Liverpool…


Arsenal cheaply surrender possession and Liverpool counter with Coutinho afforded far too much space. He runs at Mertesacker, who brings him down. Gerrard curls a free-kick wide of the far post. Positive from Liverpool early on.


Already Markovic has followed Sanchez back to try and track him. Let’s keep an eye on how that unfolds.


Early on, lots of pressure from Arsenal in pressing Liverpool high. Mignolet just about gets a clearance away as Giroud races towards him to try and block. Game hasn’t really settled down yet. But given the events of last February, Arsenal will be pleased it’s still scoreless!


CLOSE! First decent shot on goal and it’s Adam Lallana who conjures it. He drives a well-struck shot towards the near post and it’s heading towards the top corner but just creeps too high and fizzes over the bar. Great effort.


Flamini goes in the book for a challenge on Coutinho.


Lallana pops up again on the edge of the area and uses Markovic’s dummy outside him to make a yard. The shot is pretty weak though and rolls harmlessly past the near post. Still, Arsenal are scratching their heads here, the game completely by-passing them.


First real glimpse of Giroud as he tries to send a long-range header to the bottom corner but it’s pretty feeble and bounces past the far post. Worryingly, the best Arsenl have offered so far.

Certainly a big point here. For all the possession and the dominance, Liverpool haven’t tested the Arsenal goalkeeper yet. They could live to regret that. Hard to see the guests being this poor for the full 90 minutes.


Markovic has impressed here. He pops up on the left and cuts inside and tries to gently clip a ball over the top for Sterling – it almost comes off but Mertesacker boots it clear. Nice intent once more.


Coutinho is in acres of space and fires in a shot from the edge of the area. But it’s straight at Szczesny. A shot on target, at last.


Gary Neville has just slammed Arsenal as being ‘like mannequins’ here, just chasing shadows. It’s true. Quite a toothless display and Sanchez has been switched to the left side and they’ve gone 4-4-2 with Welbeck and Giroud through the middle.


VERY CLOSE! Chambers makes an error and takes a heavy touch in the box, the ball runs to the edge of the area where it’s scooped back in, Markovic latches onto it but Szczesny is off his line quickly and blocks the shot. Best chance of the game.


VERY CLOSE! Sterling picks up the ball, turns and has space. He races towards the Arsenal goal and rolls the ball across to the rampaging and unmarked Markovic. The pass is slightly behind him though and he has to reach back a little as he tries to whip it to the top corner. Inevitably, the accuracy isn’t there and it’s too high. Another good chance though.


CONTROVERSY! Well, now. Flamini’s pretty fortunate here. He clashes with Lallana near the touchline and it seems like he catches the attacker with a stray arm. He’s on a yellow, the crowd are baying for blood but Michael Oliver gives a stern warning instead. Big talking point.


And there it is! Liverpool are in front and it’s the little Brazilian who gets it. Arsenal deserve that – they’ve been hopeless. And no surprise that it comes from a cheap giveaway. Coutinho picks it up, drops the shoulder to evade a challenge and drives a shot across goal and it nestles in the bottom corner.


I don’t believe this. Arsenal have levelled and they certainly don’t deserve it. Right from the restart following Coutinho’s stirke, Sanchez is awarded a free-kick on the right side and when the delivery comes in, Arsenal just keep it alive. They nod it towards the far post and Debuchy gets above Skrtel to head home. The home crowd is stunned and rightfully so. They’ve got out of jail, Wenger’s side.

And that’s the interval. Incredible end to the opening period. Let’s recap with the goals. Firstly, here’s a glimpse of Coutinho’s opener.

And then, moments later, Debuchy does this. Credit Flamini for getting such a decent header to help it towards the Frenchman…Regarding Skrtel here, dear me.

WE’RE BACK! The second half is underway at Anfield.


Wenger arrives late to the dugout and the first thing he sees is Sterling rampaging past Debuchy and the full-back brings him down.


And Debuchy goes in the book for that challenge.

From Gerrard’s subsequent free-kick, Coutinho fires a shot from outside the area but never really sets himself up properly for it and it’s off target.


OUCH! Giroud tangles with Skrtel and the centre-back drops to the ground. The attacker’s momentum takes him forward and he accidentally steps on the centre-backs head. It looks very nasty but certainly not malicious.

We’re past 4 minutes of treatment for Skrtel. He’s getting patched up but it’s taking a while.


CLOSE! After 6 minutes of treatment for Skrtel, we restart and Liverpool go close when Lucas arrives late to the edge of the area and tries to thump one to the net. But he just gets slightly under it and it’s too high.


CLOSE! Sterling races clear, getting his body in front of Debuchy and as Szczesny comes out, the attacker touches it around the goalkeeper but takes it too wide. He ends up crossing for Gerrard whose header is too high. But on the replay, Sterling clearly handles the ball to sweep it past Szczesny – incredibly how it wasn’t caught by Michael Oliver.


Arsenal are in front! And it’s rather inevitable, isn’t it? It’s a nice build-up down the left – Gibbs pings a pass inside to Giroud who plays an instant lay-off to Santi Cazorla. It’s a little over-hit as Cazorla races to the touchline to try and retrieve. But Giroud’s movement is great and he darts to the near-post to slam home the cut-back.


SUBSTITUTION! Markovic (off) – Borini (on)

Sterling is going to take up Markovic’s wing-back position (after spending the first 74 minutes as a lone striker) and Borini is up front on his own.


VERY CLOSE! Lucas had a great chance earlier in the half after darting late to the edge of the box. This time, he’s there again to try and whip a strike to the far corner but it seems to slice the shot and it swerves a fraction of an inch past the far post. Agonisingly close.


Seems like Rickie Lambert is about to be introduced. Liverpool are getting in good positions and creating chances. The ex-Southampton striker does offer an imposing target so the hosts can alter things a bit.


SUBSTITUTION! Toure (off) – Lambert (on)

This is all a little Van Gaal by Brendan Rodgers. Lambert replaces a centre-back so Liverpool are to play with two strikers. But it means Sterling now drops to left-back and Henderson to right-back. We’ll see how this plays out…


SUBSTITUTION! Giroud (off) – Coquelin (on)  

What Arsenal have, they will hold. The attacker’s done his job and could prove the game-winner.


Coutinho has had a couple of chances in this game and he pops up again in the left channel of the Arsenal area. Gets the ball out of his feet but rattles the side net from an unforgiving angle.


CLOSE! Sterling does brilliantly to engineer a great cross. He stands it up perfectly for Borini who directs the header towards goal but it’s straight at Szczesny who still does really well to tip it over.

Moments later, the striker pops up again in the right channel and drives a low strike towards the near post but the goalkeeper gets down and tips it around. Still plenty of time left, remember, because of that injury to Skrtel earlier. Probably 9 minutes injury or thereabouts.


Borini shows his frustration at not winning a throw-in by throwing the ball away. All very childish and he goes in the book.


There will be 9 minutes of injury time.


BORINI! Well this is ridiculous. Just moments after throwing a ball away in disgust and getting booked, Borini launches a ridiculous chest-high boot at Cazorla, ripping the shirt with his studs. A moment of complete madness and Liverpool are down to 10 men.


Incredible! Skrtel! Added pressure over the last few minutes from Liverpool and after forcing a corner, Gerrard swings it in, the centre-back arrives and sends a bullet header to the net. What did we say at the beginning of our coverage about Arsenal and set-pieces?


CLOSE! Cazorla jinks past a few challenges and suddenly he’s on the edge of the box and drives a shot towards goal. Jones saves and they scramble the loose ball to safety. From the resulting corner, they clear their lines and that has to be it…

And that’s it! 2-2! What a finale!

Right. Let’s all take a breather, shall we? A frantic last few minutes but Liverpool deserved at least a point. Arsenal were very poor and had they taken the win, it would’ve been daylight robbery.

A last-gasp, booming header from Skrtel (whose head Giroud accidentally stamped on earlier in the half) made it 2-2 right at the death.

Thanks for staying with us for our coverage. Plenty more reaction to this game coming up on the site in the next while.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan