Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool: Alexandre Lacazette strike saves Unai Emery’s unbeaten run during entertaining top four clash
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Arsenal hosted Liverpool at the Emirates on Saturday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.
James Milner drilled home a second half-goal to put Liverpool 1-0 up against Arsenal before Alexandre Lacazette equalised nine minutes before the break at a noisy Emirates on Saturday evening.
Second played fourth in the late kick-off in North London as both sides showed excellent attacking intent, even if it was hard to understand how the teams went into the break goalless.
Jurgen Klopp’s side looked lively but were matched by Unai Emery’s Gunners as the pair had to settle for a point each in an enthralling match played in an excellent spirit.
Hector Bellerin recovered from a muscle injury which caused him to miss the second half of the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace last Sunday while Bernd Leno was reinstated as No1 keeper after Petr Cech featuring in the 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Blackpool on Wednesday.
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Sead Kolasinac returned at left-back with Nacho Monreal still short of fitness along with Sokratis while Matteo Guendouzi was suspended after his sending-off against the Tangerines.
Liverpool were still missing Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita while star forward Mo Salah wore protective strapping on an inflamed wrist tendon as the Reds looked to consolidate second place behind leaders Manchester City, with the home side four points behind prior to kick-off.
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The statistics betrayed exactly why Arsenal sides have failed to challenge for the title over the last few years. With only three wins in their last 27 matches against top six opposition no side could maintain a push for glory with those sort of numbers.
Nor could a run of six games without a win against the Merseysiders be considered as anything other than poor form, even if they were still six short of their record number of matches when seeking victory against the Reds.
That said, as ever with stats, there are exceptions to the rule, most notably with 11 home league wins out of the previous 13 at the Emirates stretching back to March.
A lot has changed since that dreadful 3-0 home defeat to Manchester City back in early spring on the coldest night in decades in front of no more than 25,000 hardy souls in North London. Not least the fact that Emery has reinvigorated the club from top to bottom.
A winning run of 11 consecutive matches – to make it 12 games unbeaten after the hard-fought draw at Selhurst Park ended the best run of wins since November 1987 – of course helped, but it was the optimism the former PSG boss has brought to the Gunners that has so energised the fans.
The noise levels at the start of the match were evidence of that as the home side made the livelier opening, without ever threatening Liverpool’s record-priced goalkeeper Alison.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan could have scored on 15 minutes when the lively Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang whipped in a cross for the Armenian. The 29-year-old showed bravery to angle the ball towards the direction of the goal as Alisson came charging towards him in a futile bid to punch the ball away.
Unfortunately for the attacker his effort tricked inches wide while also getting clattered for good measure. However, his efforts were appreciated by fans – as were Aubameyang’s.
The Frenchman has settled in well at Arsenal, directly contributing 22 goals from his 23 starts for the club since signing in the January transfer window for a record £56 million from Borussia Dortmund - including five assists on top of 17 strikes.
He looked lively in the opening period, at one stage swapping flanks in order to breach the Liverpool backline.
Leno did well to block Virgil Van Dijk when faced with the approaching defensive giant after a perceptive through ball from Salah, while at the other end Bellerin went close with a powerful low shot, before Alexandre Lacazette pulled a low drive just wide.
Van Dijk then angled a header that came off the bar after outjumping Rob Holding but somehow the sides went into the break goalless in a match high on attacking intent.
Klopp’s side went 1-0 ahead on 61 minutes after James Milner drilled in a powerful low shot after Sadio Mane’s cross was palmed into his path.
Arsenal could have replied through moments later following Lucas Torreira driving forward before unleashing a shot that Alisson did well to block.
Van Dijk could have doubled the lead after a free header in the box that Leno did well to tip over.
The visitors were left to rue not taking that chance as Lacazette curled his shot past the Brazilian keeper and into the net to send the majority of the Emirates crowd home happy with a point against Klopp’s title challengers as they made it 13 games without defeat.