Arsenal crawled away from Anfield on Wednesday night with a point after an intense end-to-end 3-3 draw that saw the Gunners concede late on and spilled two points in the final few minutes. We ought to have held onto our lead and capitalized on the excellent results from Etihad and White Hart Lane with Manchester City drawing and Tottenham Hotspur losing to Leicester, but we conceded a damaging late equalizer from Joe Allen. Joe bloody Allen.
Here are the key points from the game.
1.Petr Čech didn’t have the best of nights.
It would not be fair to say Čech was poor at Anfield. His defence didn’t offer him enough protection throughout the game and that’s why Čech conceded three goals. The Czech international had a hand on the ball for Allen’s late goal and perhaps he could have reacted better with Firmino’s first. Hopefully Petr will find his Superman suit for the game against Stoke City on Sunday afternoon!
2.Hector Bellerin’s attacking and Nacho Monreal’s defending would make a perfect full-back.
The Spaniards had a solid game. Bellerin was effective going forward as he started the move for our third goal, while Monreal did a very good job defensively but didn’t offer us too much going forward.
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3.Laurent Koscielny struggled.
A bizarre trivia: before Roberto Firmino scored the opener for Liverpool, Laurent Koscielny had been the only player on the pitch that had scored a goal for Liverpool against Arsenal at Anfield (2011-12). Kos wasn’t at his best against The Reds – Firmino’s first goal went between his legs and the whole night he struggled. We need Kos at his best with huge matches against Stoke and Chelsea coming up over the next ten days.
4.Mikel Arteta is simply not good enough to play for Arsenal.
Our captain seems to be a great lad and a loyal servant of our club. He is intelligent and he has given a lot to Arsenal but it’s time for him to call it a day. Once again he made us look like a team reduced to ten men once he was brought on. I don’t believe there is a single Arsenal fan who has more respect for his loyalty and contribution in our most difficult season of recent years (2011-12) but his presence on the pitch is too expensive for us. We lost all three points against West Brom during his forty-minute cameo and now we dropped two more against Liverpool. Sorry, Skipper, but it’s time for you to sit out for the rest of the season.
5.Mohamed El-Nenny is hopefully an upgrade on Mathieu Flamini.
Arsene Wenger finally announced Elneny as a new Arsenal player after the match (via Arsenal.com). The Egyptian midfielder is likely to be registered in time to play against the Potters which will be some baptism of fire. Elneny is supposed to bring impressive work-rate and some precise forward passes to the table. Flamini is a bit better than Arteta these days but still below the level required for a title challenger.
6.Aaron Ramsey gave an effective performance.
Rambo was efficient with a goal and an assist to his name. He fought with the energetic Liverpool midfielders and produced the goods in the final third. His excellent near post finish was his fourth league goal this season and we’ll need more to come in the forthcoming matches.
7.Theo Walcott didn’t impress.
The English winger didn’t look well at all. He lost the ball before Firmino’s first goal and wasn’t sharp enough in the attack. Granted, Giroud should have scored after his low cross in the first half. Walcott has found himself defending a lot more lately which could be the reason why he hasn’t been scoring goals as we all expect.
8.Mesut Özil had a quiet game.
The German was unable to put his stamp on the game as he was constantly denied space by Liverpool. However, it was Özil’s presence that occupied them. Once Wenger had withdrawn Mesut, Liverpool could commit more to their attack.
9.Joel Campbell had a superb night.
The Costa Rican forward was the heart and soul of our performance. His first touch and sublime pass for Ramsey’s equalizer would have made Twitter explode had it come from Özil or Firmino – it was something Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of. He made another brilliant pass – the one for Walcott before Giroud’s big miss – and it was his pass that led to our third goal.
Besides his attacking role, he didn’t spare himself while defending. He could have reacted better before Firmino’s second goal however. Perhaps Campbell’s form is the reason why Wenger doesn’t rush Alexis Sánchez back into action.
10.Olivier Giroud was brilliant.
Giroud picked up a head injury in the attack that led to Ramsey’s goal but he still returned and scored twice. The strong Frenchman has scored eighteen goals in all competitions this season including twelve goals in the league (via Squawka.com) but it’s not just about his goals, it’s about his link-up play and ability to win aerial duels, hold up the ball and earn fouls from the opponents. Rightfully deserved the Man of the Match accolade.
Our next game is against Stoke City on Sunday afternoon. We haven’t beaten them there for six years and they’ve yet to beat us twice in a row at Britannia. Given that it’s very likely we’ll enter that match from third place as Manchester City and Leicester play winnable matches against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively, we’ll need all three points before a big match against Chelsea. We can do it!