By Umarah Naz
Roberto Firmino emerged as Liverpool’s saviour at the Emirates in pulsating game against Arsenal that resulted in six goals.
All the pre-match talk had been of the previous high-scoring encounters between the two teams, the most recent of which saw Liverpool thump Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield at the start of the season.
And when Philipe Coutinho ran half the length of the pitch to score with his head, Liverpool appeared to take control of the game. Salah’s cross ricocheted off Laurent Koscielny and looped onto the Brazilian’s head which he deftly guided past Petr Cech.
The chances came aplenty in the final twenty minutes of the half. Firmino’s shot deceptively looked to have curled in but had in fact caressed the outside of the net. Mané missed an opportunity to double the Reds lead when, but instead of taking a touch, he decided on an overhead kick which went just over the bar. Nevertheless, Liverpool withstood quite a bit of pressure piled onto them in the dying minutes of the first-half and went into the break looking in good stead.
Jurgen Klopp was forced into an early change when his captain had to be replaced due to injury in the twelfth minute. Vice-captain, Milner, came on to join Can and Coutinho in midfield. Arsene Wenger also had to take off Monreal at half-time who made way for Mustafi, which turned out to be in Liverpool’s favour.
The German substitute’s outstretched right leg assisted Liverpool in their second goal of the night. A scintillating counterattack that began and ended with Salah seasoned with a touch of magic by Firmino in between. At this point, Arsenal seemed to be out of the game with little spark about them.
But the Reds celebrations were short lived when less than two minutes later, Alexis Sanchez beat Gomez and headed in Hector Bellerin’s cross to hand Arsenal a lifeline. The quick goal galvanised the crowd and Liverpool, as they have often shown in pressure moments after conceding to decent teams, capitulated spectacularly in the next four minutes.
Granit Xhaka’s thirty-yard pile driver appeared to take Simon Mignolet by surprise. That would’ve been the only explanation as to why the Belgian chose to use one hand rather than two to try and save the shot which was going straight into the centre of the goal. In the blink of an eye, Liverpool found themselves level in a game they were coasting in.
Mesut Ozil could sense the panic in the opposition defence and drove forward toward goal lifted by the fans. The German used Lacazette’s lovely touch to chip Mignolet, who found himself on the floor much too quickly, capping off a miserable few minutes for Klopp’s number one.
The crowd went wild and Liverpool could not settle for love nor money in the moments after. Arsenal seemed more likely to go on and score more goals but the sixth actually came from Liverpool when Firmino found himself in acres of space between the two centre-backs and managed to get a shot away which Cech, not to be outdone by his counterpart, palmed off but the ball still managed to loop its way into the net. All square with twenty minutes to play.
Wijnaldum came on for Mané, who had played poorly throughout continuing his slight downturn in form recently. Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t get the chance to impress against his former club as he was benched despite his man of the match performance from last Sunday.
He did, however, make an appearance on eighty-four minutes amidst boos from the Arsenal fans but was left with little to no time to make any kind of positive impact. How Liverpool fans would’ve loved an Ox winner, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Jurgen Klopp was yet again left to answer questions about another frustrating draw; the eight of the league season so far. Even though Firmino’s strike salvaged a point for Liverpool, being 2-0 up left the moment more bitter than sweet. It’s hard to be angry at a collapse when a point has been saved.
However, five minutes of madness saw that two goal lead vanish in a flash with an all too familiar theme running in the background. Individual errors and a lack of composure to kill a game when danger first presents itself. Panic permeates throughout the whole team which leads to more errors thus continuing the vicious circle.
There doesn’t seem to be anyone who can calm the players down when a goal has been conceded. Ironically, James Milner spoke of Liverpool needing to be “boring” in situations like this and he was exactly right. Klopp prides himself on his team being attacking and exciting to watch but, at times, it’s sensible to sit back and absorb the pressure a good team may heap on.
Klopp commented after the game that three goals ought to be enough at the Emirates to win a game. Until Liverpool learn how to compose themselves on a consistent basis when harassed by opposition attackers, results like Sevilla and Arsenal will continue to rear their ugly heads.