Liverpool hosted premiership rivals and favourites Arsenal to Anfield last night for what turned out to be a thrilling encounter at the famous old north west stadium. Doubles from Roberto Firmino and Olivier Giroud, one for Aaron Ramsey and a late equaliser from Joe Allen gave the watching fans their money's worth in a thrilling encounter.
Jürgen klopp fielded his strongest possible side in the face of his ongoing injury crisis with Kolo Touré joining Mamadou Sakho in the heart of defence, between Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno on the right and left flanks respectively. Captain Jordan Henderson made his return to the side, between fellow returnee James Milner and Emre Can in a three man midfield engine. In attack, the duty of supplying the goals fell to Jordan Ibe, Firmino and Adam Lallana.
Liverpool started brightly and took the lead after 10 minutes when Firmino was on hand to fire home the rebound from Can's rasping shot from the edge of the Arsenal area. 1-0 and looking like a good night ahead for the Reds. Indeed, they looked as if they would extend their lead such was their attacking fervour.
However, as is now usual with this Liverpool side, nothing is ever easy and less than five minutes later Arsenal pulled one back. Ramsey latching onto Joel Campbell's through ball to fire past the helpless Simon Mignolet. The hosts however were not going to go down without a fight. Five minutes later they restored their lead with when Firmino scored an excellent curling effort from the edge of the box. 2-1 and the Reds in the driving seat. Only to be unseated once again.
This time, Giroud poked home a Ramsey corner on 25 minutes to take advantage of the persistent frailty from set pieces with Klopp's side. The sides went into the break even after a very entertaining first half. Musical chairs just doesn't come close.
In the second, half, Arsenal although starting arguably the slower of the two sides, went ahead after 10 minutes of the whistle blowing. Sloppy defending from Liverpool let Giroud swivel and shoot past Mignolet. 2-3 and the hosts now having their evening's work well and truly cut out. Firmino, Lallana both went close.
With time ticking away toward another snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory from the hosts, Allen who came on on 82 minutes for Can salvaged a well earned point. The "Welsh Xavi" (Even the German commentator called him that!) being first to fellow substitute Christian Benteke's headed knockdown to thrash his shot past the despairing Petr Cech. The most unlikely of heroes, but thoroughly deserved given his recent performances.
In his post match interview, Klopp rightly pointed out, that the first Arsenal goal came about when the home players stopped playing after a clash of heads between Giroud and Sakho. The visitors subsequently scored. Their concentration in tact. This is a very similar situation to Moreno against West Ham at Upton Park in the last league match. Waiting for a free kick that wasn't given. This is becoming a trend from this Liverpool side. So many unforced errors, lapses in focus and players not playing to the whistle.
Klopp also mentioned that the team needs to defend better. You don't say! The surprise signing of Steven Caulker may go some way to shoring up this leaky defence. Martin Skrtel, besides being injured, at 31 is beginning to show his age. In my opinion, this is an ideal time for Liverpool to avoid their failings of the last 10-15 years. To actually replace an ageing or departing player with similar quality, if not better. This has without doubt, been a contributing factor to the club falling behind in recent times.
Caulker at 24, is a player I've admired for a long time and someone I thought Liverpool should have bought whilst he was at Tottenham. Instead the club brought Tiago Ilori who after almost two and a half years at the club is yet to establish himself in the first team. The London-born Portugal U-21 international may well be a good player in the future, but the signing of Caulker from Southampton, albeit on loan is the kind of business Liverpool should have been doing in recent years.
Next up Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield. An absolute must win. Not just for the league but also to claw some much-needed pride against the auld enemy.
Follow Ben on Twitter @MrBengreen
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