Liverpool (1) 2 Arsenal (2) 2
Anfield Stadium, Anfield Road, Anfield, Liverpool L4 0TH
Sunday, 9th April 2023. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jakob Kiwior, Leandro Trossard, (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho) Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, Matt Turner, Reuell Walters.
Scorers: Gabriel Martinelli (8 mins), Gabriel Jesus (28 mins)
Yellow Cards: Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 41%
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistant Referees: Constantine Hatzidakis, Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Chris Kavanagh; AVAR Adam Nunnanfield
Attendance: circa 54,000
We are back again at Anfield, the place of one of our most famous victories back in 1989, of course. This time, although it is not a decider as such, it is still a most important date in our fixtures calendar, and a victory today will be a huge boost on our final run-in to claim the Premiership title at the end of May. As is the case with our encounters over the years, no quarter will be given nor taken, and we are under no illusions that it will be an extremely tough ninety minutes here on Merseyside this Easter Sunday afternoon.
We started the match quickly and with a good attitude too, as we took the game to the home side in the opening exchanges here at Anfield. Despite some early pressure from Liverpool, it was us who took the lead after just eighttminutes, when Bukayo Saka hit a ball into space and found Martin Ødegaard, who slipped it through the middle and as it bounced off Virgil van Dijk, it fell into the path of Gabriel Martinelli, who merely poked the ball past the Liver pool goalie. A great start! The goal certainly gave us the confidence that we needed, as we came at them again, looking for another goal; just four minutes later, Oleksandr Zinchenko took a shot that was heading for the far corner of the net, but Alisson pushed it away for a corner. Gabriel Jesus then switched the ball across to Bukayo Saka in a clever movement; he slipped in a cross to the back post and Gabriel Jesus, following his run, sliced the ball over the crossbar from an extremely tight angle indeed. The home side tried to catch us on the break, but as Mo Salah cut in in from the right, he played the ball straight to Rob Holding, who neutralised the danger. Liverpool started to take the game to us, as they had a good chance to equalise from the right foot of Andy Robertson, but thankfully, he whacked it wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s goal. Ben White received the first yellow card of the day, when he tackled Diogo Jota rather clumsily, and a couple of minutes later, Gabriel Jesus grabbed our second goal of the game, when Gabriel Martinelli curled the ball in perfectly for him, beating Andy Robertson to it, heading in our second goal of the game, and before even so much as half an hour of the match has passed! We look confident, and a couple of minutes after the second goal, Virgil van Dijk was easily beaten by Gabriel Jesus and he cynically brought him down, earning himself a justified yellow card. The home side then got a little close to scoring when a Mo Salah effort went wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s goal, and then Gabriel Jesus went down from a challenge from Diogo Jota near the corner and we were awarded a free-kick, which went nowhere. Cleverly, Ben White correctly read a weak pass from Andy Robertson to earn possession back for Arsenal in Liverpool’s half, and we came forward again, hunting for a precious third goal before half time. However, it was the home side that got a goal through Mo Salah from close range. This gave the home side confidence, and as the match edged towards half time, it was Liverpool who looked on the ascendancy now. During injury time, the home side got a free-kick when Mo Salah was fouled, but thankfully, Jordan Henderson fired it over the bar, so we went into the break leading Liverpool by two goals to one.
We tried to catch them cold at the beginning of the second half, with a superb shot by Oleksandr Zinchenko, in which his left footed shot from outside the penalty area was blocked, and then the home side applied a lot of pressure on us in order to try to score. Less than ten minutes after the restart, Rob Holding brought down Diogo Jota in our penalty area and thus a penalty was awarded to the home side, during which Aaron Ramsdale was booked. Our hearts were in our mouths, but fortunately Mo Salah took a poor penalty and missed the target completely. However, this miss merely served to fire up Liverpool more and they continued to pressurise us in order to search for an equaliser. There was a delay when Gabriel was attended to by our medical staff over an injury, and when play was resumed, both sides tried exceptionlly hard to break each other’s defences down, but nobody was budging at all. With sixteen minutes of the match remaining. Bukayo Saka slotted the ball to Martin Ødegaard, whose left-footed shot from outside the penalty area was saved by Alisson as the ball was heading for the bottom left corner of the net. Mikel Arteta made a double subsitution with ten minutes of the game remaining with Leandro Trossard and Jakub Kiwior replacing Gabriel Jesus and Martin Ødegaard (who passed the captain’s armband to Granit Xhaka). The home side sensed that the match was in its final stages, and during this short period of immense pressure, Bukayo Saka received a yellow card for a clumsy foul. In the eighty-fifth minute, Bukayo Saka put an excellent cross into the Liverpool penalty area, and Gabriel Magalhães met it; it was a superb header from the centre of the penalty area, which was saved in the centre of the goal by Alisson. However, just two minutes later, Liverpool grabbed an equaliser when Roberto Firmino’s header finally beat Aaron Ramsdale from close range. Almost immediately, Kieran Tierney replaced Oleksandr Zinchenko, and a little time later, Gabriel Martinelli passed the ball to Kieran Tierney, whose left-footed shot flashed by Alisson’s right-hand post. So close. Although both sides had their chances to grab a late winner, the score remained the same with honours even.
Overall, we did enough to come away with the full three points, particularly after the first half performance, in which the home side were completely outplayed. In the second half, Aaron Ramsdale was truly magnificent between the sticks, keeping out shot after shot, frustrating the Liverpool strikers throughout. Even in injury time, when he surely kept the best for last with a flying fingertip save from Salah’s deflected curling effort, before somehow keeping out Ibrahima Konate’s attempt to bundle home the winner from practically on the goal-line with only seconds of the match remaining. This draw at Anfield this afternoon leaves us six points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand over us at this stage of the season. We surely cannot afford any more slip ups, and although we came away with a point today, it truly could have been a lot worse. Keep going, chaps.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday, 16th April at 2.00pm(Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon
Have to say that the referee played a bigger part in the draw. A homer referee that I’ve ever seen in a long while. But we have to learn how to slow games down and stop teams over running at times which is what Liverpool down ( with a lot of help from said referee ) . We let them bully us in the second half. Arteta also needs to learn how to use his subs a lot better too, It’s his greatest weakness. Little disappointed this morning.