Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Final score 2-2, Gunners fight back to deny Liverpool

Laurence Griffiths

Liverpool took a 2-0 lead against Arsenal at the Emirates, but the Gunners mounted a comeback to gain a point.

Arsenal and Liverpool were both in serious need of a win at the Emirates, and with both teams excelling in self-sabotage of late, a mutually-destructive draw was perhaps always going to be on the cards.

Arsenal got off to a disastrous start as an utterly shambolic spell of defending saw them behind within six minutes. Bacary Sagna's slip let Liverpool in before Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey allowed Daniel Sturridge to let fly, and when his shot was saved, Luis Suarez was able to put the Reds in front.

Luis Suarez looked in fine form, and he almost turned creator shortly afterwards, releasing Sturridge with a fine pass, but the former Chelsea man dragged his finish wide of the target. The game was turning into an end-to-end encounter, with Pepe Reina have to pull off two fine saves to deny Theo Walcott, but Arsenal's problems were to get worse - Kieran Gibbs was forced to limp off with an injury, and few of the home fans welcomed the sight of his replacement, Andre Santos.

Just before half-time, Arsenal were fortunate not to fall further behind as Wojciech Szczesny came racing off his line to deal with Jordan Henderson, who had broken down the left channel, but couldn't make it in time. Yet with the Pole stranded, Henderson dawdled, before finally deciding to attempt a lob which drifted over the bar.

After the break, Arsenal looked the better side and it appeared only a matter of time before they would find an equaliser, but they could craft few clear chances save for a Podolski cross which Theo Walcott headed over. Just then, disaster struck again for the Gunners, with more atrocious defending to blame. Jordan Henderson surged into the area, past Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Thomas Vermaelen, and after picking up a fortunate deflection which also took Szczesny out of the equation, followed it up with a simple finish into an empty net.

Arsenal looked in real trouble now, but the Liverpool defence instantly crumbled after they had their two-goal advantage. Jack Wilshere's free-kick found Olivier Giroud unmarked to send an easy header past Pepe Reina, and barely a minute later Arsenal were, incredibly, level. Some fine play from Santiago Cazorla and Olivier Giroud led to the latter finding Theo Walcott in the area, who smashed a low finish past Reina to blow Liverpool's lead away just seven minutes after they had taken it.

Liverpool were rocking now, but Arsenal could not find a route to gain their third. Walcott continued to pose Liverpool's cumbersome defence all sorts of problems, but Giroud came the closest when he was millimetres away from getting on the end of Cazorla's low cross through the area. As an end-to-end game increasingly drew more towards the visitors' end than the other, Giroud had a fine chance to seal the comeback late on but miskicked. Liverpool counter-attacked, and the Arsenal defence had capitulated before their break, but neither Henderson nor Downing could find the killer pass either.

It summed up the game for both sides - some calamitous defending, all too rarely exploited showcasing the limitations of both teams at either end of the pitch. It was a wonderfully entertaining spectacle, but one that revealed all the reasons these two teams are where they are in the league.

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