Result: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
Competition: Premier League
Date: 3rd November 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Ramsey, Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Welbeck, Smith-Rowe
Arsenal delivered a superb performance in a lively encounter with Liverpool on Saturday night, and will be disappointed to walk away with only one point.
Hector Bellerin overcame a thigh injury and returned to the starting line-up, while Sead Kolasinac made his first league start of the season in place of the injured Nacho Monreal.
Matteo Guendouzi missed out through suspension, following his midweek red card against Blackpool.
Arsenal began well. Two forays down Liverpool’s right flank in the opening minutes were met with the offside flag and a save from Alisson. The ball moved assuredly between the Arsenal rearguard, save a wayward pass from Lucas Torreira in the eighth minute.
The home side’s possession grew, and their confidence followed. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a good effort deflected into the left-hand side of the net. An enterprising cross nearly found an unmarked Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who headed wide under pressure from Alisson.
The visitors, content to let their hosts test them with the ball, delivered the first scare on the 17th minute. Roberto Firmino’s deft attempt displaced Bernd Leno and found the post.
Sadio Mane followed in, but his effort was judged offside. Replays indicated that Arsenal emerged rather fortunately, as both Liverpool attackers appeared level when Firmino struck.
Liverpool’s purple wave rose from this point, but for now, Arsenal remained above water. Granit Xhaka, his enthusiasm apparently undimmed after his costly foul on Wilfried Zaha last week, executed a superb sliding tackle on Mo Salah in our box.
Shortly afterwards, Leno saved at point-blank as a sweeping cross from deep found Virgil van Dijk. He is then called into action by Andy Robertson. Liverpool are surging.
In the opening half hour, the visitors are finding space down Arsenal’s left flank. Kolasinac is just about coping with Salah, but the danger is there.
Arsenal are still creating opportunities. Mkhitaryan, who has flickered menacingly about Liverpool’s half in the opening thirty minutes, offers a delicious back-heel to Aubameyang, whose shot is saved.
Lacazette fizzes one across goal and past the post. Minutes later, he finds the net, before the flag goes up correctly at the offside Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal survive one final scare from Liverpool with a minute to go. A free kick is played into our box. Leno loses his head, rushes, and flaps at Van Dijk, whose header hits the post.
A fluid and entertaining half closes. Both sides look certain to score before long.
The curtain raises and the game resumes at a similar tempo. A marauding Mkhitaryan passes up on an opportunity to find a free Aubameyang in the box. Arsenal have begun on top, and a raucous Emirates crowd is responding.
Then, the inevitable. On the hour, Sadio Mane cruises down our right flank and fires a cross into our box. Leno dives and saves, pushing the ball straight into the path of James Milner, who fires low to make it 0-1.
Arsenal respond well and Torreira’s stinging effort is palmed over the bar. In most games this season, the team has peaked in the second half. It is as if nothing has happened.
But for all of the home side’s efforts, Liverpool appear comfortable under pressure. They soak up attack after attack. They cope when Milner is rewarded for his goal with an accidental clash of heads with teammate Joe Gomez.
Unai Emery makes his first change on the 67th minute, bringing Alex Iwobi on for the superb Mkhitaryan. Arsenal are then lucky not to concede again as Salah’s cross narrowly evades Leno and Mane.
Indeed, for all of the concern about Arsenal’s left back position in the build-up to the game, it is our right flank where Liverpool are finding the space to express themselves.
Emery plays his second hand. Aubameyang has not had his best game, and Aaron Ramsey replaces Gabonese striker on the 72nd minute.
Leno’s contest with Van Dijk continues, and he saves excellently from another header by the Dutchman. Liverpool are mixing their attacks against Arsenal in a manner that suggests a perceived aerial vulnerability in our backline. Arsenal hold on, and are then rewarded.
On the 82nd minute, Iwobi plays a glorious through ball in to Lacazette. He draws Alisson before cutting back inside and curling the ball past the keeper. 1-1.
It has been a bad few minutes for the Liverpool fans, who have just been told by the stadium tannoy that their last train back home is to leave Euston at 8.11pm.
Emery smells blood. The Spaniard makes his final change and brings Danny Welbeck on for Kolasinac.
As the game closes, Arsenal appear the more likely team to score. A great passing move yields a chance for Bellerin on the edge of the box, whose left foot lets him down. Man-of-the-match Lucas Torreira continues to marshal the midfield brilliantly for Arsenal.
Five minutes of injury time are played to no avail for either side. Arsenal fans will be hugely encouraged by their team’s performance. But given the plethora of chances that his team engineered, Unai Emery may well view this result as two points dropped.