What a terrific game of football- one of the games of the season, for sure. The league leaders came to Anfield as slight favorites, but it was Liverpool who dominated the majority of the game. Two terrific goals from Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool the lead twice, but on both occasions poor defending allowed Arsenal an easy route back into the game. Giroud’s superb second-half strike put the Gunners in front, but Klopp’s men were determined to get something out of the game. In the 90th minute, the equaliser finally came after a period of relentless pressure paid off. Benteke nodded down Henderson’s lofted ball into the box, as Joe Allen volleyed it past Petr Cech to rescue a massive, and fully deserved point for the Reds as Jurgen Klopp sprinted down the touch line in the snow, with glee. Here’s how I rated our players.
Simon Mignolet- 3/10
It remains a mystery to many why Mignolet has been offered a new 5 and a half year contract at Liverpool. He was at fault for the first two goals on this occasion- he should have done better as Ramsey’s shot beat him at the near post, whilst he made a hash of preventing Giroud’s shot crossing the line, although poor marking by Sakho and Lallana hardly helped his cause. Unconvincing in the extreme.
Nathaniel Clyne- 6/10
Relatively untroubled defensively, Clyne got forward repeatedly with pace, always offering an option out wide and linking well with Jordon Ibe. Still lacking that extra bit of quality on his final pass at times.
Kolo Toure- 5/10
A mixed evening for the veteran. Made some excellent challenges, but struggled up against the physicality of Giroud and the pace of Walcott. He was easily turned by the Frenchman for the third goal. Always gives 100% whenever he wears the shirt.
Mamadou Sakho- 5/10
As with his central defensive partner, Sakho had an up-and-down evening, generally coping well with Giroud’s presence, and making some important recovery challenges and interceptions. Caught napping for the first Arsenal goal after clashing heads with Giroud, and made some risky, misplaced passes in dangerous areas throughout the match.
Alberto Moreno- 6/10
Caught out a couple of times defensively as Campbell found space in behind, but generally defended well and was aggressive in his pressing from the start. Going forward the Spaniard was lively, constantly providing width and getting into promising positions. Should have scored from close range in the first half as he blazed his shot well over the bar.
Emre Can- 7/10
Particularly impressive in the first half, Can dominated in midfield, winning challenges and driving forward into space with pace and purpose. Never stopped running and provided great energy throughout the match, although his quality on the ball dropped off in the second half has he gave the ball away multiple times under pressure.
James Milner- 7/10
Operating in a wide-left position, Milner looked much more comfortable than he has done in central midfield. His work rate to get up and down the pitch was important in setting the tempo for his side, whilst he showed some good touches on the ball and linked up well in attacking moves before being replaced by Benteke after 66 minutes.
Jordan Henderson- 8/10
What a difference Henderson makes to this Liverpool side. Always willing to show for the ball, his range of passing was excellent as he helped Liverpool control possession and switch the play with pace and accuracy. His long, lofted pass to Benteke was important in the build up to the late equaliser.
Adam Lallana- 7/10
Involved in much of Liverpool’s fluid attacking moves, Lallana showed skill and composure on the ball. As always, his relentless pressing allowed Liverpool to regain possession high up the pitch, forcing Arsenal to rush into mistakes. Linked well in a central role behind Firmino.
Jordon Ibe- 5/10
Ibe saw much of the ball in space on the right wing, but appeared to lack confidence and conviction on his return from injury, as Monreal repeatedly got the better of him in one-on-one battles. Good to have him back, nonetheless.
Roberto Firmino- 9/10
A stunning individual performance by Firmino, controlling the ball superbly to lash in the first goal after Cech parried Can’s shot. His second was simply sublime as he curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 2o yards. Operating as Liverpool’s attacking focal point, his movement and one-touch passing were excellent throughout. He needs to deliver this kind of display more regularly, but now we know what he is capable of. His best performance in a Liverpool shirt so far.
Christian Benteke- 7/10
Made an impact off the bench, winning the header to knock the ball into Allen’s path for the equaliser. That’s what he was brought on for, but Firmino’s performance up front suggests the Belgian will have to remain on the bench for now.
Joe Allen- N/A
Not on the pitch long enough to earn a match rating, but long enough to score the 90th-minutee equaliser, volleying from Benteke’s header past Cech with the technique of a veteran goal scorer. Wonderful scenes.
Steven Caulker- N/A
It’s been a mad couple of days for Caulker. From a disappointing loan spell at Southampton, on loan from QPR, to playing up front for 5 minutes in front of the Kop for Liverpool. Quite an introduction.