Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal: Premier League giants produce another classic
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 14/01/16 7:54am
Joe Allen struck a dramatic late equaliser as Liverpool and Arsenal played out a 3-3 thriller - a result that keeps the Gunners top of the Premier League.
In a pulsating Anfield affair that produced four goals in the opening 25 minutes on Wednesday night, Liverpool led twice through two Roberto Firmino goals but were pegged back by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal's French striker looked to have sealed the points when netting his second on 55 minutes but Allen, who had only been on the pitch for eight minutes, struck as the clock ticked into injury time.
The result means Arsenal remain in top spot, but only on goal difference as Leicester beat Tottenham 1-0 at White Hart Lane.
With rain and sleet belting down under the Anfield floodlights, this had the makings of a special night and both teams were quickly into their stride.
Liverpool pressed the Gunners high up the pitch and their energetic approach yielded maximum reward on nine minutes.
Emre Can let fly from range which forced Petr Cech into a diving save. He was only able to parry the ball to Firmino, who steadied himself and buried the ball into the net from 15 yards.
However, the cheers from the home fans turned to groans just four minutes later as Arsenal equalised with their first real attack.
The lively Joel Campbell picked out Ramsey's brilliant run in behind Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho, who were both passed fit to play, and the midfielder hammered a shot into the net - beating Simon Mignolet at his near post.
Despite clear verbal instructions from the sidelines for both defences to tighten up, the game remained incredibly open and Liverpool were back in front six minutes later.
Firmino was the man to grab the goal, one he will not forget in a hurry. He made space for himself about 25 yards out and whipped a wonderful effort into the top corner beyond the outstretched hand of Cech.
A goal like that could have knocked the stuffing out of Arsene Wenger's men but they remained up for the battle and went in search of another equaliser and they got it on 25 minutes.
A corner from the left caused confusion at the near post and Giroud nipped in to force the ball towards goal. Mignolet, who was out of position, got his body to the ball but it found its way through and over the line.
Giroud should have made it 3-2 just two minutes later but he somehow contrived to slide the ball away from goal from three yards out with the net at his mercy.
Liverpool against Arsenal has seen more hat-tricks than any other fixture in Premier League history [five] and Firmino was inches away from adding his name to that roll of honour on 45 minutes. He collected a cross from Jordon Ibe and looped a half-volley at goal which had Cech beaten but the ball grazed the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued in the second period and Giroud put Arsenal in front for the first time on 53 minutes. Campbell, who was found by a clever reverse ball from Hector Bellerin, pumped the ball into Giroud's feet inside the box. He spun his marker and curled a nonchalant effort into the far corner from 15 yards.
Firmino had another chance to claim the match ball on 67 minutes but skewed a header wide of the target after being given the freedom of the Arsenal penalty area.
That was the last bit of space afforded to their opposition by Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker until the final few minutes as Liverpool threw caution to the wind, including bringing on new signing Steven Caulker as an emergency striker.
This was a game that deserved a dramatic final twist and it delivered the goods.
On 90 minutes, substitute Christian Benteke knocked down a Jordan Henderson long ball into the path of fellow substitute Allen, who turned the ball home to send Anfield wild.
Liverpool: Mignolet (5), Clyne (6), Toure (6), Sakho (6), Moreno (8), Henderson (7), Milner (6), Can (7), Lallana (7), Ibe (7), Firmino (7)
Subs: Caulker (6), Allen (8), Benteke (7)
Arsenal: Cech (7), Bellerin (7), Koscielny (6), Mertesacker (6), Monreal (7), Flamini (6), Ramsey (8), Campbell (8), Ozil (6), Walcott (6), Giroud (8)
Subs: Gibbs (6), Arteta (6), Oxlade-Chamberlin (6)
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud