Saturday, 27 December 2014

10 Man Reds Deny Gunners

A tough festive schedule for Liverpool continued with the visit of Arsenal on Sunday afternoon in a game that will live long in the memory for both positive and negative reasons.

Liverpool continued the 3-4-3- setup from the defeat to Manchester United and started the better of the two sides with Steven Gerrard curling a free-kick over the bar in the third minute before Adam Lallana shot over in the 12th minute.

Mamadou Sahko came closest to scoring for the home side as he headed past the post after connecting to a corner before Arsenal responded with an effort from Olivier Giroud which went straight at Brad Jones.

A long range effort from Philippe Coutinho on the half hour was taken well by Wojciech Szczesny who was called into action again just five minutes later after Lazar Markovic raced into the box and tested the Gunners 'keeper.

Liverpool looked to be going into the interval in front when a superb run from Raheem Sterling resulted in him picking out Phillipe Coutinho on the edge of the area who turned and fired the ball past Szczesny to open the scoring. However, Liverpool's defensive frailties haunted them as Arsenal levelled in the final seconds of the half with a free-kick from Alexis Sanchez headed on in the box by Mathieu Flamini into the path of Mathieu Debuchy who headed in at the back post.

Both sides had reasonable chances early in the second half with Coutinho blazing over from a free-kick before Santi Cazorla hit a similar effort over for Arsenal. A long delay came in the 50th minute when an Arsenal attack resulted in a tangle between Olivier Giroud and Martin Skrtel with the Liverpool defender suffering a head injury.

After the five minute delay, Skrtel was stitched up and bravely played on as Liverpool looked to retake the lead just after the hour mark but a Raheem Sterling run and Steven Gerrard cross saw Wojciech Szczesny beaten but failed to result in a goal.

Arsenal countered with Giroud hitting wide of the target before redeeming himself just two minutes later by connecting to a clever square pass from Santi Cazorla and hitting the ball through he legs of Brad Jones to put the visitors in front.

The change in fortunes saw Liverpool bring on Fabio Borini in place of Lazar Markovic to try and draw level and the equaliser came so close to appearing in the 75th minute as Jordan Henderson found the path of Lucas who manoeuvred into the area and saw his shot slip agonisingly past the post.

Fabio Borini looked to make an impression after seeing a headed effort tipped over by Szczesny in the 86th minute as he hit for goal again just two minutes later only to have his chance parried to safety by the Arsenal 'keeper. A huge nine minutes of added time as put on the board and Liverpool looked to level early into it as Raheem Sterling forced a clever save from Wojciech Szczesny.

However, Liverpool's momentum suffered a blow as Fabio Borini received his second booking in as many minutes after a yellow card for dissent was followed by a second for raising a foot in a challenge.

The last time Liverpool went down to 10 men against Basel earlier in the month, their performance didn't stutter and they levelled late on despite exiting the Champions League. This time around the same spirit was apparent as in the seventh minute of added time they did draw level as Martin Skrtel superbly met a Gerrard corner and headed past Szczesny to the joy of the home fans.