Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool: Gunners stun Reds with five-minute scoring frenzy
By Lewis Jones at The Emirates
Last Updated: 23/12/17 10:20am
Roberto Firmino's late equaliser earned Liverpool a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Arsenal, after the hosts had come from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 at the Emirates on Friday Night Football.
The three points looked to be heading Liverpool's way with 52 minutes gone when Mohamed Salah doubled their lead - following Philippe Coutinho's opener - but Arsenal scored three goals in five crazy minutes during a spell where Liverpool's defence crumbled in spectacular fashion.
Strikes from Alexis Sanchez (53), Granit Xhaka (56) and Mesut Ozil (58) in that frenetic period swung the game in their favour but Roberto Firmino (71) salvaged a point for Liverpool.
The result means the gap between Liverpool, who remain in fourth, and Arsenal remains at just one point as Arsene Wenger is still without a win over Jurgen Klopp in a Premier League fixture.
Arsenal: Cech (6), Bellerin (6), Koscielny (6), Monreal (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Xhaka (6), Wilshere (7), Iwobi (6), Ozil (7), Sanchez (7), Lacazette (7).
Subs: Mustafi (6), Welbeck (6)
Liverpool: Mignolet (5), Gomez (5), Lovren (6), Klavan (6), Robertson (6), Henderson (6), Can (7), Mane (7), Firmino (8), Coutinho (8), Salah (7).
Subs: Milner (7), Wijnaldum (6), Oxlade Chamberlain (6)
Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino
Liverpool were forced into an early change when Jordan Henderson limped off, but his replacement James Milner slotted in perfectly, playing a part in the opening goal.
Firmino already had headed wide from close range when Milner's clever ball down the channel found Salah and his deflected cross was skilfully lobbed into the net via Coutinho's head. The 25-year-old Brazilian has now been involved in 15 goals in his last 10 away games in all competitions.
The visitors remained positive with Firmino curling inches over on 32 minutes and Sadio Mane somehow spurning a glorious opportunity eight minutes later, volleying over from 12 yards with Petr Cech stranded.
Arsenal left to a chorus of boos at half-time and the atmosphere descended further on 52 minutes when Salah doubled the lead.
After leading a counter-attack from inside his own half, Salah played a neat one-two with Firmino and curled home from the edge of the box.
With the way Liverpool were controlling things, Arsenal's quick-fire comeback was hard to fathom.
Just five minutes later they had not only clawed back the deficit but found themselves in front.
Having made 11 changes in the midweek Carabao Cup victory over West Ham, Arsenal reverted back to their strongest XI – the same side which edged past Newcastle in the league last weekend. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain had to make do with a place on the bench on his first return to Arsenal as Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the Liverpool side which romped to victory at Bournemouth. Emre Can and Sadio Mane both started, meaning all members of the ‘fab four’ were in the starting line-up for the Reds.
First, Joe Gomez was caught napping at the back post and Sanchez headed home. That triggered a change in momentum as Liverpool wilted.
Two minutes later, Xhaka took aim from 30 yards and the ball found its way past a weak one-handed attempt by Simon Mignolet. Arsenal were not done there, though, as they took the lead two minutes later.
Liverpool's defending could be questioned for the first two, but there was little they could do to stop Alexandre Lacazette's clever back-heel and Ozil's mesmeric chipped finish over Mignolet.
That was not the end of the drama as Liverpool maintained their fluidity going forward and grabbed an equaliser on 71 minutes when Firmino's effort was too hot for Cech to handle.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was thrown on against his former employers, eyeing a Hollywood finish to a quite breathless game, but it ended all-square.
- There have been 27 goals scored in the last five Premier League meetings between these teams (10 for Arsenal, 17 for Liverpool) at an average of 5.4 per game.
- Liverpool have scored 54 away goals in all competitions in 2017, their most in a calendar year since 1982 (66).
- Arsenal have conceded seven goals in two league games against Liverpool this season - in only one Premier League campaign have they conceded more against an opponent (10 against Man Utd in 2011/12).
- Since Jurgen Klopp's first Premier League match in charge in October 2015, Liverpool's games have seen 279 goals scored (174 for, 105 against), more than any other club.
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
This award could have gone to five or six of the attacking players on show but the Brazilian gets the nod for his crucial equalising goal that got his team out of a sticky situation. Firmino has now been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Liverpool player since he joined at the start of the 2015/16 season, scoring 28 goals and proving 18 assists. His all-round game during a hectic match was of the highest quality.
Arsenal have six days rest before travelling to south London to play Crystal Palace in front of the Sky Sports cameras while Liverpool play hosts to Swansea, also live on Sky Sports Premier League.