Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool: Gunners, Reds stalemate in exciting, end-to-end affair
- Petr Cech made a pair of stunning saves to keep Arsenal level just before halftime
- Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool kept their third clean sheet in three games
- With the draw, Arsenal sit on 4 points from three games — 9th in the PL table
- Meanwhile, Liverpool are on 7 points — good for 3rd in the PL
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Philippe Coutinho nearly gave the visitors a lead less than three minutes into the game, when James Milner played a through ball to Christian Benteke in the right attacking channel, Benteke cut the ball back toward the penalty spot and Coutinho’s right-footed curler hit the underside of the crossbar but caromed back into the field of play.
Arsenal thought they had taken an early lead in the 8th minute, through Aaron Ramsey’s near-post finish, but the Welshman was flagged for offside as Santi Cazorla played the ball into the penalty area. Replays seemed to indicate Martin Skrtel had kept Ramsey onside, meaning the goal should have stood.
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Coutinho’s influence on the game continued into the 25th minute, when the Brazilian midfielder slotted a clever through ball past three defenders to put Milner in on goal. If not for Gabriel Paulista’s late-arriving challenge, Milner’s first touch was to be an unobstructed shot on goal. As it was, Milner ended up with a tough outside-of-the-foot shot, which Petr Cech got down quickly to hold.Throughout the entire first half, Arsenal’s midfield and defense showed a real penchant for giving the ball away deep inside their own half. In the 39th minute, they had seemingly been punished for a bad giveaway by Hector Bellerin. Roberto Firimino won the ball, whipped in a cross that eluded two Arsenal defenders and found Benteke, unmarked, at the back post. With the goal gaping, Benteke simply needed to touch the ball over the line, but out of nowhere came Cech to tip the ball around the post.
5 - Liverpool had five shots on target in the first half, as many as they had hit in their opening two PL games this season combined. Swarm.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 24, 2015
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Cech made another stunning save in the 45th minute (above video), when he went full stretch to get the slightest of touches on a curling effort from Coutinho. After freeing up space with a fancy double move on Bellerin, Coutinho cut toward the corner of the 18-yard box and unleashed a right-footed curler destined to sneak inside the far post, if not for Cech’s intervention and touch onto the post.
Alexis Sanchez went agonizingly close in the 60th minute, when his left-footed effort from close range hit the outside of Simon Mignolet’s left-hand post and went out of play. Cazorla played a diagonal ball into the box, where Olivier Giroud laid it off first-time to Sanchez for the shot from the corner of the six-yard box.
If not for a slight slip inside the box, Giroud might have given Arsenal a breakthrough goal himself in the 70th minute. After a quick one-touch pass from Ramsey, the big French striker found himself behind Dejan Lovren, but as he went to shoot with his left foot, Giroud’s plant foot gave way, causing him to slide into the ball rather than strike it with power and control, and Mignolet made the diving stop.