Arsenal fans were up in arms before the game even started, with the teamsheet showing that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were both absent. Calum Chambers and Gabriel were their replacements, and Gooners’ concerns would prove more than valid.
We were dominated throughout the first half, and Chambers in particular looked all at sea in the back line. His passing and decision making were woeful, and he was bullied by Christian Benteke.
You could tell fairly early on that there were going to be chances in the game, with Philippe Coutinho thumping the crossbar with a snap shot. We went straight up the other end and crafted a chance of our own, Alexis Sanchez’s header sailing over the bar from a Nacho Monreal cross.
We seemingly got the breakthrough moments later, Santi Cazorla playing Aaron Ramsey in behind with a defence splitting pass. The Welshman lashed it past Simon Mignolet, but was incorrectly flagged offside.
The decision going against us seemed to really have an impact, and we let our heads drop almost immediately after. Our passing became wayward, and Liverpool began creating chance after chance and putting pressure on our unfamiliar back line.
Francis Coquelin proved hugely important, and made a number of game saving challenges to protect the back four. One tackle in particular on Benteke was vital, with the Belgian surely through on goal if Coquelin didn’t slide in.
Petr Cech was the real hero though, with the Czech international pulling off a handful of truly world class saves. His finger tip save pushing Coutinho’s shot onto the post was massive, but paled in comparison to his reflex save to deny Benteke.
The former Aston Villa man looked certain to score from point blank range, but Cech got down well – putting himself among the flying boots – and pushed it around the post.
We somehow held on until the break, lucky to have kept it scoreless – Ramsey’s disallowed goal not withstanding.
It was an entirely different second half, and we looked better from back to front. Liverpool weren’t able to keep up the pressure, and we started to dominate the ball far more consistently.
We came close early on in the second 45, Olivier Giroud with a fine chance to score one of his famous near post flicks. His shot was blocked by Martin Skrtel though, and the Frenchman was left head in hands.
He was involved with a fantastic flowing move moments later, and turned the ball around the corner in a tight area to give Alexis an excellent chance. You could see he wasn’t quite match fit though, and he rattled the post when you’d normally put your house on him to score.
We created a number of half-chances heading into the tail end of the game, with Giroud and Ramsey unable to convert – largely due to some excellent defending from Liverpool.
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Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were brought on late in the game, but neither player had the intended impact. The Ox was sloppy in possession and lacked end product, while Walcott was a ghost during his 20 or so minutes on the pitch.
We applied a bit more pressure late on, but couldn’t find that all important goal.
The points were shared, and our poor goalscoring record at the Emirates continues.