Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: Wounded Skrtel turns away Gunners at the death (video)
A wild match at Anfield finished level as Martin Skrtel and 10-man Liverpool equalized late in added time to salvage a point after a wasteful 90 minutes.
Skrtel was on the receiving end of a nasty gash on his head when he took an inadvertent boot from Olivier Giroud, causing a six minutes delay early in the second half. The result was nine minutes of stoppage time added on later, and Liverpool took full advantage.
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The home side started with vigor, but were wasteful at many points during the match. Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana both found spaces in the Gunners back four early on. Lallana missed just over the top corner with a shot after a one-two with Lazar Markovic.
The visitors, meanwhile, were woeful passing the ball, with just 18 completed passes in the first 20 minutes. Arsenal hardly saw a sniff of the ball, while Liverpool continued to look for the final ball. On the half-hour mark, Liverpool had out-passed their opponents 223-67.
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Markovic was a marauding force down the left-hand side, but produced a number of poor efforts on goal when given space and service. Finally, they pulled out a breakthrough just before halftime. Olivier Giroud’s pass backwards was stolen by Jordan Henderson, and he found Countinho at the top of the key, with the Brazilian making no mistake off the post and in.
It was a deserved lead for the Reds, while Arsenal also consequently had done nothing to show they belonged. But Liverpool couldn’t get to halftime - just a minute away - without conceding. Arsenal snatched one back to put things level, when a free kick connected to the heads of Mathieu Flamini and Mathieu Debuchy - arguably Arsenal’s two worst players in the first half - and into the back of the net.
Steven Gerrard came ever so close to putting Liverpool back in front as things opened up in the second half on 60 minutes. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny came off his line to stop Raheem Sterling on the wing but whiffed, leaving the goal open. Liverpool worked the ball back to the middle, and in order to beat Szczesny back to the goal, the Liverpool captain rushed a diving header and it went right over.
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On the other end, Liverpool would pay for the miss. Gerrard gave the ball away in the midfield, and Olivier Giroud played a one-two with Santi Cazorla before slamming home for a 2-1 lead. The goal marked the sixth score for Arsenal in its last six shots on target.
Sterling and Coutinho missed beautiful chances on counter-attacks over the next five minutes, and Lucas almost scored a stunner with 15 minutes to go, but they all succumbed to the pressure of the moment. Szczesny was forced into a brilliant save by substitute Fabio Borini with four minutes to go, and Arsenal held on. It initially appeared the stoppage time would only cause more pain for Liverpool with Borini sent off for a second yellow.
But the Reds continued to press as Rodgers urged them on, and Adam Lallana found a trailing Skrtel who struck home the equalizer. They still have just two wins in their last nine, but the point will put them above rivals Everton into 10th. Meanwhile, Arsenal had a chance to pip derby foes Tottenham in the table, but the two points dropped only pulls them level on points with Spurs.
Liverpool: Jones, Toure (Lambert 81'), Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Henderson, Markovic (Borini 74'), Coutinho, Gerrard, Lallana, Sterling.
Goals: Coutinho 45', Skrtel 90+6'
Discipline: Borini (second yellow) 90+2'
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Campbell 90'), Cazorla, Alexis (Monreal 90'), Giroud (Coquelin 82'), Welbeck.
Goals: Debuchy 45+1', Giroud 64'