Result: Arsenal 3 – 2 Liverpool
Competition: Premier League
Date: 9 October 2022
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal:Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Jesus
Subs: Turner, Tierney, Cedric, Holding, Sambi, Vieira, Marquinhos, Nelson, Nketiah
Results against Liverpool have been dire the past few seasons but this team have managed to turn the corner with an enthralling 3-2 win at home.
Arsenal scored in the first and last minute of the first half, sandwiching a Liverpool goal. Martinelli was instrumental scoring and then assisting Saka respectively.
Firmino made it 2-2 in the second half against the run of play but Saka scored a penalty to give Arsenal the final say to make it 3-2.
Arsenal came into the match in good spirits having won 8 of their last 9 league games and looked to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Arteta named a mostly unchanged side with the usual suspects in the forward and midfield area. One inclusion that caught the eye was Takehiro Tomisayu who slotted in at left back headed of a fit Tierney to shut down the offensive impact of Salah and Alexander-Arnold.
It was the visitors who kicked off at the Emirates. They started by passing around the back tentatively so Arsenal had to be patient to retrieve the ball.Aand when they did through Saliba 40 seconds in, they never looked back. A quick counter had the ball move to Saka on the right, then to Odegaard in the middle who slipped in a rampaging Martinelli who slipped passed a narrow and static Alexander-Arnold.
The Brazilian made no mistake with a strike that hit the back of the net hard. 1-0 to the Arsenal within 1 minute.
Arsenal continued to work hard throughout the half with the team staying compact to shut down Liverpool’s passing lanes. Xhaka’s engine was impressive as he repeatedly dropped back to sniff out Liverpool’s options. Tomiyasu too was crucial in cutting out attacks to Mo Salah.
But as the game progressed, Liverpool kept possession and started finding gaps with their range of passing and movement. Liverpool made their breakthrough in the 30th minute with an attack that broke the defence.
The ball was floated in for Nunez down the inside left channel and Gabriel missed the ball with his clearance. Luis Diaz ran in behind and pulled back for Nunez who only needed a tap in to respond. 1-1 Liverpool
Arsenal couldn’t rein in possession. Thiago and Henderson were controlling the centre of the park and Thomas was nowhere near as influential as he could be. As the first half was drawing to a close, Arsenal fans would all have been content for both teams to have gone in square amd for the Gunners to regroup.
However, the Arsenal were not done. They had defended a free kick taken from the halfway line in the last minute. They cleared the ball and Martinelli led the charge on the left. He drove into space against Henderson who was on his backfoot. Gabriel joined in the counter from defence with Saka and were present for the pull back.
Alexander-Arnold made the mistake of vacating the centre to aid Henderson take down Martinelli but he was too late. The Brazilian squared the ball for Gabriel to dummy and leave it for Saka to tap it in. 2-1 Saka
Arsenal went from scoring in the first minute, to being on the back foot, to score again in the final minute of the half to cap a very hectic and eventful first half.
Arsenal started the second half strong, pushing their dominance. Jesus and Martinelli were more involved, aggressive with their runs, pressing and tackles. The team found Odegaard often to control the direction of play.
And just when Arsenal looked to be comfortable in control, Liverpool hit back against the run of play. Jota received the ball in the inside channel and spotted the clever run of Firmino. A through pass unlocked the defence and found Firmino who finished well from the left. 2-2 Liverpool
Arsenal’s response was inspiring, they cranked up the pressure and took the game to Liverpool. Waves and waves of attack meant that it was Liverpool on the backfoot now. They were so good that Salah was removed for Fabinho after being in Tomiyasu’s pocket.
Xhaka could have scored with an audacious chip above a defender and a powerful shot that sailed over the bar, a moved which would have made Zidane blush. Liverpool couldn’t get out of their penalty box. Arsenal’s passes were laser guided and Martinelli’s bewitching dribbles dragged the Liverpool defence from side to side.
Time and time again, Xhaka was given space to cross in for his teammates from the left side of the penalty box. It wasn’t until the third attempt in a row where Liverpool caved, as Thiago kicked the back of Jesus’ leg to concede a penalty. Coolness personified, Saka tucked the penalty to the bottom corner. 3-2 Saka
As Arsenal closed down the game, Tierney came on for Odegaard to move the team to a back five. Despite looking defensive on paper, the home team continued to keep the ball with both full backs up high and Tomiyasu circulating the ball like an auxiliary central midfielder.
Major praise should also go to Jesus who was everywhere, defending a dangerous cross at the back to pressuring Van Dijk in injury time to win a corner.
That spirit saw the Gunner through to the end as victors.
No more jibes about how Arsenal hasn’t played a big team yet. With Liverpool slayed, that’s 9 wins out of 10 league games and serious contenders at the top of the table.