Liverpool vs Arsenal: Allen strikes late to frustrate Gunners in thriller

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Joe Allen's last-gasp equaliser earned Liverpool a thrilling 3-3 draw with Arsenal as the Premier League leaders wasted a chance to consolidate pole position at Anfield on Wednesday.

Arsene Wenger's side twice come from behind to take a second half lead but, in the dying seconds, Jordan Henderson's long punt was headed down by substitute Christian Benteke and fellow replacement Allen volleyed home a deserved equaliser. 

Earlier, Roberto Firmino had also scored twice for Jurgen Klopp's team, his first home goals, only for Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud to quickly respond in a remarkable opening 25 minutes.

Giroud's second goal put Arsenal, attempting to move closer to their first title since 2004, 3-2 ahead but Allen left them frustrated with his late intervention.

The Gunners are now top only on goal difference from second placed Leicester, who won at Tottenham to boost their surprise challenge.

Klopp, who left Benteke out of his starting line-up and played with Firmino as a 'false nine', saw his team make a committed opening to the game and take the lead after just nine minutes.

James Milner set up Emre Can for a shot from the edge of the Arsenal area which goalkeeper Petr Cech could only parry into the path of the Brazilian forward, who took a tidy controlling touch and deposited the ball into the net from 12 yards.

It should have been just the psychological boost Klopp's team needed.

But that lead would last just three minutes before a weak clearance from Kolo Toure only found Joel Campbell, whose excellent through ball presented Ramsey with the opportunity to beat Simon Mignolet at his near post.

It was yet another goal that raised question marks about Liverpool's goalkeeper and defence but, on this occasion at least, there was little lacking from their attacking play.

Only 19 minutes had elapsed when Firmino restored the lead as Arsenal showed their own defensive uncertainty.

Per Mertesacker cleared unconvincingly and Milner touched the ball to Firmino, who placed an unstoppable right-foot shot into the top corner from just outside the area.

Drama

Yet, while both managers would have been furious with aspects of their teams' defensive efforts, there was little to complain about the attacking fare on display as Arsenal regained control of proceedings.

Mamadou Sakho conceded a corner with a superb goalline clearance that denied Ramsey's six-yard chip after another excellent through ball from Campbell.

Ramsey's corner created the problems for the Reds at the near-post with Giroud ghosting in front of his marker Sakho and putting a decisive touch past Mignolet via a deflection from the goalkeeper's legs.

It was rapidly turning into one of the games of the Premier League season and more drama was to follow just three minutes later when a sublime Arsenal move - Campbell to Theo Walcott for a low cross into the six-yard area - ended with the unmarked Giroud sliding in towards an open net and somehow steering the ball backwards away from goal.

A dangerous Firmino cross was well saved by Cech, Walcott had a promising shot deflected behind and man of the half Firmino had a magnificent shot from Jordan Ibe's cross strike the bar.

The frantic attacking pace did not let up after the restart and, within a minute, Campbell for Arsenal and Alberto Moreno for the home side had volleyed over at the far post.

And, after 54 minutes, the visitors led for the first time as Giroud claimed his second goal of the night.

Hector Bellerin surged down the right, pulled the ball back to Campbell and his perfect pass allowed Giroud to turn swiftly on the penalty spot and score with a perfect finish.

Klopp brought on Benteke to add a different attacking dimension.

It had the desired effect as a Moreno shot, Firmino header and shot from the substitute himself all threatened before Allen netted in the 90th minute.

Substitute Joe Allen netted the equaliser in the 90th minute for Liverpool against Arsenal in a pulsating match that ended 3-3 at the Anfield on Tuesday night.

Roberto Firmino first half brace was neutralised by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.

Immediately on resumption Giroud put the Gunners ahead but Arsene Wenger's side went on the defensive and paid the price as Allen capitalised for some good work by another substitute Chriatian Benteke to put the teams level.

Arsenal are on par with Leicester on 43 points in the standings but lead by virtue of better goal difference.

Full-time

Liverpool 3 (Firmino 10" 19" Allen 90") Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14" Giroud 25 54)

Four minutes added.

Liverpool 3 (Firmino 10" 19" Allen 90") Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14" Giroud 25 54)

90" GOAL! Long ball into the box and Benteke does well to head it in Allen's path and the substitute makes no mistake. 

89" Moreno wastes a free-kick.

85" Five minutes to go and Ozil is replaced. Is it the right move but from the way Liverpool have been pressing it makes sense for Wenger to put some fresh legs in the defence.

78" Action suddenly shifts to the other end and Ozil after a some deft ball controlling relays a long bal for Ramsey but Mignolet steps out and punches it away.

75" Mertesacker does well to stick his leg out and block Lallana's shot.

74" Arsenal make two changes.

73" Lallana is omnipresent in the Arsenal area doing all the running and passing. Here he finds Benteke on the left but the Belgian's shot is too weak to trouble Cech.

71" Liverpool are threatening to equalise but Mertesacker makes a desperate clearance.

68" Moreno has a shy which deflects off a defender and misses the target.

65" Benteke comes in for James Milner to a round of applause.

61" Futile attempt from Giroud as he is blocked by two defenders.

59" Arsenal are good on the counter and threaten to score eveytime they make their foray into the Liverpool area.

56" YELLOW! Booking for Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne for deliberate handball which brings an Arsenal attack to an end.

Liverpool 2 (Firmino 10" 19") Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14" Giroud 25 54)

54" GOAL! Giroud makes the most of another defensive lapse and with his back to the wall comes up with a sublime finish.

52" YELLOW! Clyne is booked.

51" Theo Walcott misses a golden opportunity here. Beating the off-side trap his grounder misses the target by inches.

48" Alberto Moreno wastes a great chance for Liverpool in front of the goal by firing well over. 

46" Ozil tries to find Campbell with a long ball in the box but Campbell, partly unsighted, blazes the ball way over.

Second half to begin in a few minutes. Stay tuned for this cracker of a match.

Two goals from Liverpool's Roberto Firmino were neutralised by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud for Arsenal in an action-packed first half at the Anfield.

HALF-TIME

Liverpool 2 (Firmino 10" 19") Arsenal 2 (Ramsey 14" Giroud 25)

47" Firmino again comes close to scoring a hat-trick and this time his left-footer goes a little wide to leave the striker holding his head in his hands.

45" Three minutes added.

41" Surprise counter from Liverpool and Firmino was on the verge of his hat-trick but for the Arsenal defenders crowding him and Cech making a good effort to block Emre Can scoring from the rebound.

38" Long ball into the bal and Cech rushes out to collect.

33" Plenty of action as the ball moves from one end to the other.

28" Giroud misses a sitter after Campbell and Walcott do the spadework. It's all happening here.

Liverpool 2 (Firmino 10" 19") Arsenal 2 (Ramsey 14" Giroud 25)

25" GOAL! Poor defending again from Liverpool during a corner kick and Giroud is quick to capitalise.

Liverpool 2 (Firmino 10" 19") Arsenal 1 (Ramsey 14")

19" GOAL! Firmino is on target again and this time it's a terrific strike. Receiving a ball on top of the box Firmino takes a shot in a jiffy and the beauty is in that half a second he found the top left corner with a curling shot to beat Cech. Gem of a goal.

Liverpool 1 (Firmino 10") Arsenal 1 (Ramsey 14")

14" GOAL! Liverpool's defence is caught napping after Joel Campbell sets Aaron Ramsey through who beats Mignolet with a low finish.

Liverpool 1 (Firmino 10") Arsenal 0

10" GOAL! Firmino scores after Cech parries away an Emre Can powerful shot into Firmino's path. 

6" Emre Can makes a god run down the left and finds Adam Lallana in the box but Lallana loses balance and attempts to get a penalty by falling on the ground. Referee not interested in his threatrics.

4" James Milner's intended cross is collected by Cech.

3" Nice long through ball from Mesut but Joel is off-side. 

2" Good footwork there from Emre Can as Aaron Ramsey gets close on his heels.

It's a rain-soaked Anfield and that does not augur well for Liverpool for whom home form has been dismal. We are 15 minutes away from the start.

Joel Campbell will start in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for leaders Arsenal, while Liverpool recall captain Jordan Henderson but there is no place for forward Christian Benteke.

TEAMS

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Jordan Henderson, Milner, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Jordon Ibe, Roberto Firmino.

Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini, Joel Campbell, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud.

TEAM NEWS

The return of Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure will bolster Liverpool's defensive options while the other good news for the Reds' fans is that Steven Caulker, Jordan Henderson, Jordon Ibe and James Milner could all be back.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is set to recall Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker after resting them against Sunderland.

Alexis Sanchez is not yet fit enough to return, while Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere remain out.

STAT ATTACK

Arsenal

Have won 5 of their last 6 matches in the Premier League.

Have only lost two of their last 17 Premier League matches against Liverpool.

The Gunners are unbeaten in nine Premier League home games but have won just one of their last four away fixtures.

They have scored the first goal of the game on 14 occasions in the top flight this season, more often than any other team.

Mesut Ozil has either scored or assisted 16 of Arsenal's last 24 league goals

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has won only five of his 12 league matches in charge of Liverpool

They have scored just 14 goals in those matches, including two in their last four.

They have scored 22 goals in their 20 league games so far this season, their lowest tally at this stage of a league campaign.

They have won five matches 1-0 so far this season in the Premier League.

There have been 35 goals scored in the last nine league meetings at Anfield.

Games between Liverpool and Arsenal have produced five hat-tricks, the most in Premier League history.

PROBABLE FORMATIONS

Liverpool: 4-3-3

Arsenal: 1-3-2-4

Preview

Liverpool cannot match Arsenal's brand of possession football and they will not try that either in Wednesday's Premier League clash, manager Juergen Klopp has said.

Liverpool have lost three of their last six league matches and are currently eighth going into the match against the table-topping Gunners.

"Arsenal and Arsene (Wenger) have their own style, it's possession football, so it's clear that if we want to play the same way we will be without a chance because they've been doing it for longer," Klopp told British media.

The job is not easy for a Liverpool team smarting from Friday's disappointing 2-2 FA Cup draw with fourth-tier side Exeter City but Klopp was ready for the challenge.

"Arsenal are not only a good possession team, that's the problem, they have good counter-attacks too and that's what you have to be aware of.

"It's a job but it's a really nice job to think about solutions and how to stop them coming through with their plan. I like things like this."

Liverpool have sustained multiple injuries in recent weeks and German Klopp, who took over as manager in October, has expressed his concern at the number of matches in December and January.

Wenger said it was only normal for Klopp to complain about the packed fixture list as he used to coach in Germany, where clubs get winter break.

"You get that from everybody who comes to England at the start because you have to adapt to the English style," Wenger told British media.

"I was like that and I'm still in favour of a winter break - but without losing the traditions of English football.

"I believe that for the Germans they are maybe more surprised as they have a good winter break."  

Campbell's attitude proves Arsenal right to keep him - Wenger

Arsene Wenger has praised winger Joel Campbell's attitude after his goal in Saturday's 3-1 FA Cup win over Sunderland offered further proof that Arsenal made the right decision to keep the Costa Rica international at the club.

Campbell wanted to leave at the end of last season after making just four Premier League appearances off the bench before he was shipped out on loan to Spanish side Villarreal.

"I flat-refused to let him go because I saw something in him that gives you belief, because of his attitude," Wenger told the club's website (www.arsenal.com).

"You want to be surprised by the quality of your players and where he surprises you is in the intensity of his teamwork."

The 23-year-old, who had three spells out on loan before he made his Arsenal debut, has already made six league starts this season, scoring twice.

Wenger said he was convinced Campbell deserved more playing time after his impressive performance in the 3-0 Champions League win over Olympiakos Piraeus in Greece last month.

"After Olympiakos, in a game where we were like that, knife on the throat, he turned up with something special... Then I thought 'he can play under pressure as well, what is important for us'," the Frenchman said.

Arsenal had to beat Olympiakos by two clear goals to reach the knockout stages for the 16th time in a row.

The emergence of Campbell on the wing might see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being pushed into a central role and Wenger was confident the England international has all the attributes to succeed in the middle of the pitch.

"He has the attributes to play in central midfield, he has that important quality -  little surge to get out of pressure," Wenger said.

"One of the things to get out of pressure is to have a little dribble to get away from the guy who closes you down and nobody has that more than Oxlade-Chamberlain."


 

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