Relief for Rodgers as Liverpool leave it late against Arsenal
Viewers had to wait 45 minutes for the match to spring into life at Anfield, by which point half time was beckoning.
Liverpool’s switch to a 3-4-3 in recent games appeared to have paid dividends in stifling Arsenal’s chances, and their hard work looked to have been rewarded when Philippe Coutinho was afforded space on the edge of the area, to drill a reverse shot into the bottom corner.
Merely a minute later, Arsenal were level. Liverpool switched off as Alexis Sanchez floated a free-kick into the area and Mathieu Debuchy leaped above Martin Skrtel to score his first Gunners goal.
You could have been forgiven for thinking you were in a different stadium for the second period as the game opened up, with both teams pressing for the advantage. A number of half chances followed, with a six minute stoppage sandwiched in between, as Martin Skrtel clashed heads with Olivier Giroud, resulting in the former sporting a headband for the rest of the match.
Not long after the deadlock was broken. Superb play down the left channel featured Kieran Gibbs pinging it into Giroud on the deck, and almost like a lever in a pinball machine, the Frenchman played it 45 degrees in behind him for Santi Cazorla to connect and play it back into Giroud, who had spun on his heels to reach the return, and fire through keeper Brad Jones’s legs.
Then it was a case of protecting the lead, as a Liverpool response began in earnest. Spurred on by a buoyant Kop, the Reds attempted to seize cotrol. Skipper Steven Gerrard, who had gone close previously had an effort saved, before Lucas Leiva lashed from the edge of the area, only to see his effort spin agonisingly wide.
The hosts’ hope looked to have all but disappeared when substitute Fabio Borini was sent off for a second bookable offence after a dangerous foot to Cazorla’s midriff, though when the fourth official signalled nine minutes of injury time, the din was deafening.
Raheem Sterling, who didn’t stop running, or creating all game, took it upon himself to stretch Arsenal’s tired legs time and again, though just as time was nearly up, Skrtel rose to head in unmarked from a corner to rescue a point for the Reds and Brendan Rodgers.