Arsenal’s visit to Anfield was a thrilling affair that ended in a draw, but it could have been so different had they held on to an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. Mikel Arteta had prepared his players for the hostile environment of Anfield by making them train with the strains of the Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as a backing track. However, all went awry when Arteta got involved in a touchline spat with opposite number Jurgen Klopp and Arsenal crashed to a 4-0 loss.
The Gunners were determined to not make the same mistake twice and led 2-0 with half-time approaching, goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus a fair reflection of an outstanding display up to that point. Unfortunately, Granit Xhaka’s foolishness changed the atmosphere as he got involved in a totally needless flashpoint with Trent Alexander-Arnold, enraging Liverpool’s players and Anfield. Mohamed Salah’s goal three minutes before half-time set up a second-half siege and what looked like three points for Arsenal became one after Roberto Firmino’s late equaliser.
Salah even missed a great chance at the far post as Liverpool pushed for victory and then failed to hit the target with a penalty for the second time in succession after Rob Holding fouled Diogo Jota. Aaron Ramsdale was a heroic figure in the closing moments as he produced a magnificent fingertip save from Salah then miraculously kept out Ibrahima Konate’s bundled effort from virtually on the goalline in the dying seconds. It ended 2-2 and now Manchester City have it in their own hands to win the title; six points behind the leaders with a game in hand and a home match against them to come.
Arsenal have endured such unrelenting misery in recent years at Liverpool, where they have not won since 2012, that they may have accepted a point before kick-off even with their outstanding form, but there was pain etched on faces as Firmino rose to head home. It was a remarkable incident and is already under review from the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL). There must be a level of disappointment for Arsenal at having a 2-0 lead, and complete command, only to end with just a point.
Arsenal had shown an ability to regroup from any perceived setbacks this season, showing a character and resilience many have doubted in the past and ultimately this was a game they could have lost, which would have been a devastating blow. Virgil van Dijk again looked nothing like the imperious central defender who had such a hold on attackers in his pomp while Martinelli took full toll on Alexander-Arnold’s defensive frailties.
The answer as to whether this was one point gained or two lost can only come at the end of the season but Arsenal must now hope the manner in which they squandered a position of such authority at Anfield does not come back to haunt them. They still have that game at Manchester City as well as a testing trip to Newcastle United to come, and must now show the resolve they have demonstrated so often this season to withstand pressure and get back on track.