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West Ham United
31 January 2013
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 60089
O. Giroud 64'
T. Walcott 67'
L. Suárez 5'
J. Henderson 60'
I've been Tom J Doyle (@TomJDoyle), and thank you for joining me tonight for this fantastic game. Stick with Goal.com for all the latest match reaction from all the other games tonight, and get involved on Twitter (@GoalUK) as well if you like. Goodbye for now.
What does this tell us about both sides and their quest for the top four? Well, Arsenal and Liverpool are certainly entertaining to watch, but with creaky defences, a Champions League finish could be a bridge too far for both teams this year.
Special mentions should go to Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere, both of whom impressed for either side. Jose Reina was in superb form on the night, and although Wojciech Szczesny was shaky, he vitally denied Suarez at the death.
That was a truly entertaining game at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal battled back from two goals down to earn a spirited 2-2 draw with Liverpool. Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson put the hosts in a commanding position, but Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott struck to earn the hosts a deserved point.
90' + 4'
Is there time for a winner - no, that's it! What a fantastic draw!
90' + 3'
How has this not gone in! Downing feeds Suarez on the right and the striker unleashes a venomous low strike which Szczesny parries out, but there's nobody on hand to tap into the net - that's what happens when you take off your other striker, Brendan!
90' + 2'
Walcott's been so sharp but he can't quite catch a loose pass on the wing here. He's signed a new contract with the Gunners, but just imagine how good he'd be with similarly talented players around him every week...
90' + 1'
Four minutes of injury time to play, and Santos does well to head away from Downing at the back post for Arsenal.
Yellow Card Per Mertesacker
Mertesacker really flies into a challenge on a marauding Agger and gets the clearest yellow card you will ever see. He's been slow to react to say the least tonight, the big German.
What a game we've had here tonight - I don't want it to end! It's been a mile a minute for the last quarter of an hour or so, with chances galore - but can either side find a late winner?
Oh no Olivier, what have you done! The striker plays a one-two with Podolski and the German finds Giroud free from six yards - but the forward fluffs it! What a golden, golden chance.
STAT ATTACK (via @OptaJoe): 2 - Liverpool are one of only two teams to throw away a two goal lead and lose the match in the PL in 2012 (2-3 v QPR). Nerves.
Yellow Card Olivier Giroud
Chance for Giroud! The corner flies in and the France striker can only head up and over the bar from close range. And now hes being booked for a clear dive when there was no contact from an Agger challenge - that's just idiotic.
Save from Reina! Walcott tees up Giroud who bends in a left-footed effort from22 yards which the keeper does well to tip wide. Corner for Arsenal.
Agger is inches away from heading in a Gerrard corner here - neither side can defend tonight with any confidence.
Arsenal are so close to a lead! Like so often before they break from Liverpool's corner, and Podolski shifts the ball to Cazorla on the left. The Spaniard blasts it across goal but nobody can get a touch and a good chance goes begging.
Suarez though is still trying to fashion a late lead for Liverpool and wins a corner here from Vermaelen - although the ball does look to come off the striker.
Walcott gets down the right and crosses on the slide, but Agger does well to cut the ball out. The hosts can sense a winner here...
Mertesacker spins and headers Cazorla's cross backwards towards goal, but can only find the top of the net. Close, but we're still level.
Wisdom knocks Wilshere off his feet on the left wing here, and if the delivery's anything like Wilshere's last, it could be curtains for Liverpool...
Yellow Card Steven Gerrard
Gerrard crunches Mertesacker here and receives a booking for his troubles. He may be a tad lucky as he leapt into that challenge, but fortunately didn't catch the Germany centre-back too heavily.
Sturridge is replaced by Jose Enrique who will slot in on the left to help Johnson, who is being targeted by the Gunners at the moment down that flank.
Almost three for Arsenal! Liverpool can't handle Walcott now, and the speedy striker whistles a left-footed effort just wide of Reina's right-hand post from 20 yards. He's in red-hot form at the moment.
Podolski fancies adding a third, but his effort from 25 yards goes way over the bar. Still, who would've believed he'd be shooting to put Arsenal in front barely five minutes ago? Not me, that's for sure.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Theo Walcott
WALCOTT LEVELS IT!!! What a goal this is from the forward, who blasts in a low effort across a static Reina from the right of the box after being teed up expertly by Giroud. Breathless stuff here - what a comeback by Arsenal!
Assist Jack Wilshere
Goal Olivier Giroud
GIROUD STRIKES!!! Wilshere curls in a great free kick from the right wing, and the France striker does the business by steering a header down into the ground and past Reina's despairing dive. Game on at the Emirates Stadium!
Podolski goes close! Giroud tees up the forward from 22 yards, and he lets fly with a half-volley that spins wide of Reina's right-hand post. Good technique, but not close enough.
Goal Jordan Henderson
HENDERSON SCORES!!! What a goal that is from the youngster, who beats practically the entire Arsenal defence through sheer force of will. There's seemingly nothing on as he's 30 yards out on the right, but he goes round Mertesacker and Santos to find himself through. His shot is blocked by Ramsey but deflects off of the hapless Brazilian and he's left with an open goal to send the visiting fans into ecstasy.
STAT ATTACK (via @OptaJoe): 2 - On the last 11 occasions Arsenal have trailed at half-time at home in the PL, they have battled back to win just twice (D1 L8). Task.
But the Germany striker drives the ball straight into the middle of Jamie Carragher. That's poor from such a great free kick specialist, but he's winded the Liverpool defender there.
Arsenal win a fortuitous free kick 30 yards out, and Podolski is lining this one up eagerly...
So close for Walcott! Podolski delivers a gorgeous cross to the back post, and the England international catches Johnson napping - but he can only flash his six-yard header over with the goal gaping. Big, big chance.
It's Arsenal's turn to demand a spot kick! Podolski goes down after contact from Wisdom, but the striker seemed to bounce off of the youngster's challenge rather than anything else - it would have been a soft penalty had it been given.
Now then, Sturridge wants a penalty for a handball by Vermaelen here. Referee Kevin Friend doesn't give it, and Liverpool play on but it ends up as a goal kick. Replays show the Belgium international handled not once but twice there - he's very lucky it's not a penalty.
Sturridge looks like he wants to take on every defender here - that's the sign of a player with confidence. The ball eventually ends up with Downing on the right, but his shot is blocked after cutting inside.
We're underway again and Arsenal have 45 minutes to rescue this game. Let's hope for more calamitous excitement though, as it's been pretty good so far!
STAT ATTACK (via @OptaJoe): 17 - Luis Suarez now has 17 PL goals this season, only the 10th occasion a Liverpool player has reached this mark in a single PL season. Form.
Well, there have been chances at either end, but Liverpool are good value for their lead here. Luis Suarez did what he does best to net his 17th of the Premier League season, but Per Mertesacker's leg had a huge bearing on the ball beating Wojciech Szczesny. However, Joser Reina has had to make two great stops to deny the Gunners, so all is not lost.
45' + 2'
Wenger looks very, very frustrated in his big, big coat tonight... and that's half-time!
Three minutes of injury time here - and a mention must go to Gerrard here, who has superbly marshalled the midfield so far. He's made a number of key interceptions and is proving to be the main obstruction to Arsenal tonight.
What a chance for Henderson! Downing finds the midfielder free down the left and Szczesny commits himself early. Henderson spins and screws in a chip from the edge of the box, but it floats on to the top of the net with keeper and defender alike stranded. Suarez and Sturridge do not look happy, as they were waiting for the ball in the centre.
Giroud's first real chance of the game arrives, but his header from the penalty spot after Walcott's cross is too close to Reina. His team-mates will need to target the striker more often if he is to have an impact tonight.
Cazorla tries to find Giroud with a through-ball but the pass is poor, much to the France striker's frustration. The diminutive Spaniard has not been on form tonight - but he has too much quality to carry on like this surely?
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans Gibbs has to come off, and that can only mean one thing - it's Santos time!
Carorla's corner causes mild mayhem in the Liverpool penalty area but the ball is punted clear. Both sides have talented attackers, but you just don't get the sense either team is comfortable defending a lead.
Gibbs is down with an injury here, but he should be alright to continue. Wenger can ill-afford an injury to his left-back here, especially with Andre Santos lurking on the bench like a disaster waiting to happen...
Cazorla is unchacteristically clumsy on the ball and loses the ball to Gerrard in Liverpool's half, with the captain releasing Henderson. The former Sunderland midfielder can't find Sturridge's run though and the breakaway chance goes begging.
Suarez has another shot! Henderson does well in the area to feed him once again, but he drags his shot wide of the right-hand post from the right of the area. It's a shame as Johnson was lurking at the back post ready for a simple finish.
Just to go back to that chance...the corner was won after Suarez was through again. This Arsenal back line simply cannot deal with him.
Off the line! Szczesny is lucky here as he comes for a corner and gets nowhere near the ball, but Daniel Agger's header is cleared well by Podolski on the left-hand post. So close to a second for Rodgers' side.
Suarez looks to get away and Cazorla cynically (and comically) hacks the striker down with a mini-lunge. Silly, and he's now in the book.
Yellow Card Santi Cazorla
Close for the hosts! Cazorla picks a lovely pass for Lukas Podolski on the left, but instead of shooting, the German rolls it across the box where Gerrard and Carragher are on hand to clear. Good defending, but Podolski should have hammered that home without a second thought.
Arsenal are certainly confident of getting back into this, but the marauding runs of Kieran Gibbs and Sagna are leaving big holes for Liverpool to counter-attack into.
STAT ATTACK (via @OptaJoe): 13 - Arsenal have made more errors leading directly to a goal than any other team in the Premier League this season. Calamity.
Walcott breaks down the right now, but his cross is calmly collected by Reina. These two are going to be battling all night.
Great save! Reina denies the hosts again as the ball falls kindly for Walcott on the right of the box, but the keeper gets a strong glove to his curling effort to tip it around his left-hand post. The Spaniard is in outstanding form tonight.
Yet more pinball as Liverpool simply cannot clear it, and Olivier Giroud wins a corner after shooting from 20 yards...
It really is like Sunday league football now as Santi Cazorla whips in a cross from the left which is up in the air forever as nobody can get a proper volley or header on it in about eight attempts. Deary me guys, sort it out!
Of course, it'd be wrong to pin all the blame on Sagna so far - Thomas Vermaelen was also badly at fault for the goal, with his attempted clearance looking like that of a Sunday league player. Can he recover the form he showed before his injury problems?
Johnson has been absolutely clattered in the air here by Sagna, who has been dreadful in the opening stages. What has Carl Jenkinson got to do to get a game?!
Sturridge almost makes it two! Suarez plays a world-class pass with the outside of his boot on the volley from the left wing and his strike partner is through, but can only slide a volley wide from inside the penalty area. Arsenal are hanging on here!
So close for Walcott! Wilshere finds the forward with a delightful pass from 35 yards out. The England winger-cum-striker blasts a half-volley at goal but the Spaniard superbly tips the ball over his own bar. What a stop that is, and what a start!
Goal Luis Suárez
SUAREZ SCORES!!! It's a disaster for Arsenal in terms of defending as Bacary Sagna slips to allow Glen Johnson down the left. The ball falls to Sturridge whose effort is well saved by Szczesny, but Jordan Herderson tees up the Uruguay international finishes from 12 yards courtesy of a Per Mertesacker deflection. Woeful from the hosts.
Assist Jordan Henderson
Liverpool win an early corner and keep the pressure up, but the ball eventually ricochets off of Sturridge's legs out for a goal kick. They're not showing any fear, the hosts...
Gerrard steals the ball from Jack Wilshere and looks to be through after a neat ball from Sturridge, but he's adjudged to have fouled his young compatriot. Liverpool are pressing high up the pitch already.
And we're off! Neither side is at their best at the moment, but a win tonight could put one team's chances of reaching the top four firmly back on track.
The players are in the tunnel and Jamie Carragher looks composed - although what might happen when Theo Walcott is bearing down on him later on is another matter altogether...
STAT ATTACK (via @OptaJoe): 100% - Steven Gerrard is the only midfielder/forward to play every minute of every Premier League game this season. Dynamo.
Liverpool fans will be buoyed by capturing the signature of Philippe Coutinho from Inter today, and although it's far too early to play him, it may just give the players that little lift needed to take the points today.
Jose Reina starts in goal once more for the visitors after recovering from injury. Brendan Rodgers has opted to play both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge from the start - presumably intending for the pair to use their pair to expose Per Mertesacker, who starts for the hosts.
It's relatively straight-forward for Arsene Wenger tonight, with the only mildly intriguing decision being to pick Aaron Ramsey ahead of Abou Diaby - but that's understandable given the France midfielder's lack of match fitness.
Liverpool starting XI: Reina; Wisdom, Agger, Carragher, Johnson; Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Downing, Suarez, Sturridge. Subs: Jones, Enrique, Skrtel, Shelvey, Allen, Borini, Sterling.
Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla; Walcott, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Santos, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky
God evening everybody, and welcome to our LIVE commentary of Arsenal - Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. I'm Tom J Doyle (@TomJDoyle), and hopefully we've got an absolute belter in store between two sides desperate to mount an assault on the Champions League places. Team news is imminent...
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