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March 3, 2012
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 44922
L. Koscielny 23' (own goal)
R. van Persie 31', 90'+
That's it Arsenal have won here at Anfield somehow after being on the backfoot for most of the game. Liverpool must be kicking themselves for not taking their chances in a game they dominated as they were given a lesson in finishing by Robin Van Persie as with only two chances in the game he gives the Gunners the three points.
90' + 5'
Arsenal are now hitting the Reds on the counter and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's effort goes just wide of the post with Reina at full stretch. The Gunners seem content just to try and kill the clock with the Reds needing a goal to get back into the game.
90' + 3'
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
GoalRobin van Persie
GOALLLLL!!!! It's a real smash and grab job for Arsenal and of course it's Robin Van Persie whose got the goal again. A long ball played forward finds the striker in the area, he composes himself and fires a left-footed volley past Reina at his near post. It's a class finish from the Gunners skipper and has shown Liverpool how to finish in front of goal. The Reds have been punished for their lack of clinical edge.
Arsenal look a bit void of ideas in attack when they're not playing on the counter. They've struggled to break Liverpool down at all when they've had a good spell of possession and at times they just try and force the ball to Van Persie which hasn't really worked today.
Goal.com's man at Anfield, Greg Stobart, says: "The injury to Arteta means that Liverpool – or Arsenal for that matter – have plenty of time to find a winner. Liverpool have been in this position many times before this season and as the Kop groans in unison with every move that breaks down, you sense they have little confidence in Kenny Dalglish's men to score here. The Gunners, for their part, look like they have decided a point will be enough here but have bags of pace on the pitch to sucker-punch the Reds on the break."
Liverpool have a chance of a breakaway but Charlie Adam blows the chance as instead of releasing Henderson who was bursting into the Arsenal area he turns back on himself and is dispossessed. The crowd didn't like that from the former Blackpool man.
Liverpool are putting a lot of crosses into the Arsenal area which Koscielny and Vermaelen have dealt with quite well. The Reds need to get the ball down and play though the Gunners defence as they're unlikely to win many aerial battles without the presence of Andy Carroll.
The game is a very cagey affair now, both teams don't want to lose this. Arsenal will be delighted with a point after taking a battering for the majority of this match. They do look dangerous on the break with Walcott's pace, could they force an unlikely winner?
Liverpool's use of the ball in front of goal has cost them big today as they should be way out in front. Again, they're wasteful this time Downing can't find Suarez with a simple pass when all the Uruguayan would have to do is tap the ball in for Liverpool to take the lead. Very wasteful again from the Reds, could it cost them?
Liverpool nearly pay dearly for that miss as Arsenal go up the field and nearly score themselves through Walcott. The Red are grateful to the reactions of Reina that they aren't behind as Walcott's effort rebounded off two defenders before the keeper could gather the ball.
How Liverpool aren't leading in this game is anyone's guess as they've just spurned yet another great chance to take the lead. The Reds had a good spell of possession in the Arsenal half and Adam slid a lovely reverse pass to Kuyt to set up a crossing opportunity. The Dutchman delivered a perfect ball in, beating the Gunners defence and all Martin Kelly had to do was tap the ball in to score but he fluffed his opportunity missing his kick.
Danger for Liverpool as Arsenal attack through Tomas Rosicky who puts the ball into a threatening area across the face of goal and Jamie Carragher has to be at his best to glance the ball away from danger as Van Persie and Benayoun were lurking.
Yellow CardThomas Vermaelen
Our man, Greg Stobart, says: "It's just gone a little flat here – on and off the pitch – since that break for Mikel Arteta's head injury. Kenny Dalglish is on the touchline furiously trying to gee up Jordan Henderson in the hope that Liverpool can continue to play their high-tempo attacking game. The Reds have been here a number of times before this season and you can already sense a little anxiety creeping into their play, despite their dominance."
It's Liverpool's turn to threaten now and Henderson puts a decent ball into the box and Skrtel gets his head to it and puts the ball into a dangerous area which Kelly nearly takes advantage of but Szczesny is alert to the danger and punches the ball away.
Better from Arsenal as they finally get Walcott into a decent position inside the Liverpool box but unfortunately for the winger and the Gunners he smacks the ball into the crowd.
Arsenal are having a decent spell of possession in the Liverpool half and are looking more like the Gunners of last week. They've only threatened the Reds goal on a couple of occasions so they need to get Van Persie and Walcott into the game more if they have any ambition of leaving Anfield with three points.
Arteta's replacement, Abou Diaby nearly makes an instant impact on the game as he drives into the Liverpool half, turns his man and fires a decent effort at goal which had Pepe Reina scrambling towards his left where he made a comfortable save.
Delay at Anfield due to an injury picked up Mikel Arteta. The former Everton man is having to be stretchered off after clashing with Jordan Henderson is innocuous fashion as he seemed to just run into the England man. He seems in a bad way though and that will be a concern to Arsene Wenger.
First chance of the second-half falls to Liverpool and Suarez. The Uruguayan was put through down the right by Henderson. He took the ball into the box but put his shot into the side netting when Kuyt was well placed in the area.
We're back underway at Anfield.
Our man, Greg Stobart, says: "There is a feeling of disappointment and deja-vu among the Liverpool supporters here at half-time. Kenny Dalglish's side should really be out of sight but, not for the first time, have been frustrated by an inspired goalkeeper, profligate finishing and the woodwork. I've just been speaking to former Reds manager Gerard Houllier at half-time and he seems to be convinced that the Reds will win comfortably in the second-half. I'm not so sure, with tired legs sure to set in as the game goes on and with Robin van Persie posing a lethal goal threat for the visitors."
Half-time at Anfield and Arsenal will be absolutely delighted to be drawing at the interval, Liverpool have been all over them. The Reds should be three or four up by now and only themselves to blame for their lack of clinical edge in front of goal as Kuyt missed from the spot and later went onto hit the post as did Suarez. Not to mention some brilliant saves from Szczesny. It's the story of Liverpool's season to dominate but not make it count. Can Arsenal make them pay in the second-half?
45' + 1'
Off the post again!! Liverpool come so close to getting their second and it's so unlucky for Kuyt as he came across the face of the goal latching onto Adam's pinpoint cross and makes contact, but the ball trickles agonizingly onto the post and is cleared by the Arsenal defence. Liverpool should be out of sight in this one.
Arsenal just can't get anything going for them and they'll be delighted to take 1-1 into half-time. Van Persie has been isolated upfront bar his goal which just goes to show his value to the Gunners. Their midfield needs to step up and compete in this game as they're doing their defence no favours so far today.
So close for Liverpool and it's Suarez's brilliance which nearly regains them the lead as he spins away from two Arsenal defenders, jinks past Koscielny and fires an effort towards the bottom corner but Szczesny sticks out a hand and pushes it wide for a corner. Brilliant play from the Uruguayan but the Pole is keeping his side in the game.
The games got a bit scrappier now with a lot of challenges coming in the middle of the park disrupting both teams attacking play. Liverpool look the most likely to get another goal though as they are seemingly camped in the Arsenal half.
Our man at Anfield, Greg Stobart, says: "I was worried this game might be a little flat but it's been anything but in the first half-an-hour. Liverpool have played with an attacking effervescence that should have seen them at least a couple of goals up before Robin van Persie's equaliser. The Dutchman has scored just about every type of goal imaginable this season and beating Jamie Carragher to a header is no mean feat. Van Persie is just feeling is lower back now as he stands in the centre circle, which will be a concern for Arsene Wenger."
Well that was a bolt out of the blue from Arsenal who've been mere spectators for the majority of the first-half. Liverpool are trying to respond but they look a bit shell shocked by Van Persie's equaliser.
GoalRobin van Persie
GOALLLLL!!!! Arsenal have equalised and who else would it be over than Robin Van Persie who notches his 30th goal of the season. The Dutchman heads home from close range after Sagna puts in a great cross the find the Gunners skipper who beat his man to head emphatically past Reina. Great goal all-round for Arsenal .
Liverpool come so close to getting a second as Henderson finds himself in space and shoots at goal and forces a good save from Szczesny but the ball goes only as far as Suarez's, whose follow-up effort slams against the post. Unlucky for the Reds.
Own GoalLaurent Koscielny
GOALL!!! Liverpool take the lead and it's an awful own goal to concede from Koscielny. It was an excellent break by Liverpool down the right, Jay Spearing delivered a lovely through ball for Downing who laid the ball off for Henderson. The England man's cross wasn't great but the defender got himself in a tangle and sliced his clearance into the bottom corner.
Penalty saveWojciech Szczesny
PENALTY to Liverpool!! Suarez takes the ball into the area and is fouled by Szczesny. Dirk Kuyt steps up to take the kick but it's well saved by the Pole however his save rebounded back to the Dutchman who fired an effort at goal only for Szczesny to deny him once again with another brilliant stop. Amazing double save from the Pole.
Missed PenaltyDirk Kuyt
Chance for Liverpool as Suarez and Henderson break forward and have a man advantage. Unfortunately for the Reds, the Uruguayan's lay-off is poor and Henderson is forced to back-track before he can find a another red shirt and the opportunity is gone.
Our man at Anfield, Greg Stobart, says: "The Arsenal fans in the Anfield Road stand to my left are taking great delight in their 5-2 victory over Tottenham last Sunday, which seems to have added a string of new chants to their armoury. On the pitch, Stewart Downing and Bacary Sagna have both produced contenders for worst shot of the season in a rather low key start to the game. Arsenal's pace could be a real threat on the counterattack as shown by Theo Walcott's volley from a tight angle, the closest either side have come to scoring."
Oh dear what a poor effort from Sagna, I think that's why he's a defence as he picks the ball up 30 yards from goal, cuts inside and launches an effort but he slices his shot and it goes out for a throw in. Not his best moment.
Now it's Liverpool's turn to threaten as Luis Suarez is nearly put through by a long ball from the back which evades the Arsenal defence. Szczesny is alert to the danger and beats the striker to the ball and heads clear. Downing picks up the loose ball and is left with a great chance to lob the Pole but he can't make contact and the chance is spurned.
Close for Arsenal as Theo Walcott is put through by a ball over the top of the Liverpool defence. He win his tussle with Jose Enrique and fires a shot at goal from a tight angle which forces Pepe Reina into making a good stop which he gathers at the second attempt.
Liverpool are dominating the early stages with some good passing moves particularly down the left through Downing and Dirk Kuyt but are yet to threaten Wojciech Szczesny's goal.
The Reds get another corner as this time Bacary Sagna is forced to head behind. Adam's delivery is better and Martin Kelly gets a leap on his marker but can't direct his header at goal and it goes harmlessly wide of the post.
Liverpool get off to a decent start forcing a corner down the left as pressure from Stewart Downing forced Laurent Koscielny to head behind. Fortunately for the Gunners the delivery from Charlie Adam is poor and they clear their lines.
We're underway at Anfield.
Our man at Anfield, Greg Stobart, says: "Welcome to Anfield for a massive game for these two sides in their aspirations of a top four finish in the Premier League this season. Liverpool played 120 minutes in the League Cup final and tiredness in the squad could be a problem today, certainly if the pre-match passing drill is anything to go by. There is certainly a bit of bounce in the Arsenal staff in the press room today after their 5-2 win against neighbours Tottenham last week and it will be interesting to see if that is reflected in the players this afternoon. Arsene Wenger has named a strong side but Robin van Persie's fitness could be crucial for the visitors, who I fancy to score at least once today."
Liverpool have struggled at home this season drawing seven out of their last nine games at Anfield winning twice. In total Kenny Dalglish's side have won just 20 points at home this campaign their joint-worst total at home since the Premier League began in 1992.
In the last nine top flight games between these two sides, six of the matches have ended in draws. The last time the teams met in August 2011, Liverpool came out 2-0 victors with an Aaron Ramsey own goal and Luis Suarez strike sealing the points. Can the Reds do the double over the Gunners.
Arsenal remain unchanged from the team that beat Tottenham 5-2 in the North London derby last week. The Gunners are expected to keep the same shape with Theo Walcott and Yossi Benayoun playing behind Robin Van Persie upfront.
Kenny Dalglish has made four changes from the team beat Cardiff in the League Cup Final. Glen Johnson is replaced at right-back by Martin Kelly while Daniel Agger misses out and Jamie Carragher comes into the back-four. Steven Gerrard who picked up an injury in England’s 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands on Wednesday also misses out with a hamstring injury. Andy Carroll drops to the bench and is replaced by Dirk Kuyt.
Team News: Arsenal (4-3-2-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Song, Rosicky; Benayoun, Walcott; Van Persie. Subs: Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabianski, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Chamakh, Miquel.
Team News: Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique; Henderson, Spearing, Adam, Downing; Kuyt; Suarez Substitutes: Doni, Bellamy, Shelvey, Coates, Flanagan, Maxi, Carroll.
Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! Commentary of today's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. Both teams should be on a high after wins last week in the League Cup Final and the North London derby respectively so hopefully we should see a cracker this afternoon. I'm Simon Sinclair and I'll be taking you though all the build-up and action as it happens from Merseyside.
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