Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2
( Coutinho 45, Skrtel 90, Debuchy 45, Giroud 65 )

Arsenal were dramatically pegged back by a spirited Liverpool at Anfield in which the home side clawed a later leveller from Martin Skrtel. Philippe Coutinho had given the Reds the lead on the stroke of half time, but in the second minute of first half half time added on, Mathieu Debuchy headed in his first ever Arsenal goal. Under pressure and much criticised of late, Brendan Rodgers’ team then fell behind when Olivier Giroud swept in his 6th goal of the season from Santi Cazorla’s cross. Giroud had accidentally caught Skrtel’s head earlier, and a lengthy injury stop was enforced on the match, the result of which was a massive nine minutes of time added on. Liverpool were down to ten men after 95 minutes when substitute Fabio Borini received his second yellow card. Arsenal’s inability to defend a later corner however enabled Skrtel to power home a header, with Per Mertersacker shirking when he was needed to stand all of his six foot and eight inches tall.

With the memory of last season’s heavy loss still in their minds, Arsenal knew they had to battle from the first minute. There’s something about matches featuring Arsenal and Liverpool, and the expectant Anfield crowd, like their team, were up for the ensuing battle. Waves of Reds’ attacks starting from a four man midfield were soon overwhelming the hard working, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla. Lazar Markovic was employed to good effect and had the first sighter on Wojciech Szczesny’s goal, which the Poland keeper smothered. Adam Lallana also saw an effort off target, as the Gunners although managing to hold firm, were nevertheless being over run.

Liverpool’s high pressing brought the games opening goal. Danny Welbeck and Giroud contrived to lose possession deep in their half. Jordan Henderson found Coutninho, and his instep and shot in off the post was just reward for the home side. If anything however, it stirred something in the Gunners. Alexis Sanchez, all pace and bustle was caught by Steven Gerrard. The Chile striker took the free kick. Mertersacker and then Flammini won successive headers, and at the far post, Debuchy out jumped Skrtel to head past Brad Jones for the equaliser.

After the breaks, Liverpool, were now attacking the Kop went and continued to venture forwards. Raheem Sterling couldn’t believe it when he saw Szczesny race off his line. The Arsenal keeper missed the ball, and Sterling crossed for Gerrard to head over the bar. The score remained level, but with their next attack, it was Arsenal who took the lead.

Kieran Gibbs found Giroud. The France striker spotted Cazorla out on the wing, to switch play. Cazorla hit a low cross, and despite being surrounded by Reds’ defenders, Giroud struck low and powerfully to beat Jones between his legs.

Still Liverpool came again. Henderson crossed for Lucas to strike just wide and Szczesny was alert to tip over from Borini’s header. Now it was Gerrard to strike from distance, but again Szczesny produced the save. We were deep into the nine minutes of time added on, and having been yellow carded for throwing the ball away, Borini received his marching orders for a horrible studs up challenge of Cazorla. The Spain midfielder’s ripped shirt and ripped flesh was testament to the horror of Borini’s wayward boot.

As Liverpool earned another corner, Lallana swung in the ball which Skrtel raced onto unopposed to thunder a header beyond Szczesny. Playing zonally, and Arsenal will wonder why Mertersacker didn’t stand up, when his aerial presence was most needed by his team mates. Cazorla forced Jones into a late save as Arsenal went looking for the winner, but honours were even at the battle of Anfield, and to the frustration of Arsene Wenger.

” Overall I think once they were down to 10 men we were not dangerous anymore. We conceded a corner that was a bit unlucky and where we were guilty was that we didn’t jump at all with Martin Skrtel. Of course from then on we conceded so it became 2-2. Overall it’s a fair result over the whole 90 minutes, but it’s a frustrating result for us, because they came back at a moment in the game where we had plenty of defenders on the pitch and could defend the set piece much better,” said the Arsenal manager.

” We had problems today getting our flow going and we didn’t have enough possession in the game. In the first half, it was down to tactical reasons and psychological reasons, whereas in the second half we blocked them much better. After we went 2-1 up, we just let them come at us and didn’t come out enough to score a third goal. As long as you don’t score a third goal, you are under threat to concede a second goal.”

The point takes Arsenal into sixth place, and Wenger will look to better performances and results over the festive period and starting with the evening kick off for visit of Queens Park Rangers on Boxing Day.