Analysis: How did Klopp manage to hold the Gunners?

Aakarsh / 14 January 2016

A chilly, rainy Anfield welcomed Arsene Wenger and his team with a possible chance of opening up a 4 point gap at the top of the table. As the Kop started their traditional anthem you could see the nervous faces in the away camp as they started to understand what awaits them in the course of the next 90 minutes.

Jurgen Klopp in his pre-match press conference said that his team would surely come out second best if they try to match Arsenal head to head in the game. So it was no surprise that the German opted for a false 9 system with Firmino leading the line alongside Adam Lallana and Jordan Ibe on flanks.

Arsene Wenger as always put in an attacking team that has seen plenty of goals in recent times. Klopp’s system and its press started to take the toll on Arsenal mid-field as the first 5 minutes saw the Reds dominate inside the final third.

But the visitors slowly got themselves on the ball but before they could conjure anything plausible, they fell behind to a smart snapshot from Firmino that caught Petr Cech giving the home side an early advantage and the crowd an early lift.

But it took just 4 minutes for the Gunners to stamp a reply of their own. A long ball towards Giroud, a ploy Arsenal thrived on all night was pulled down for Campbell who found a smart run from Ramsey. The Liverpool goalkeeper did himself no favors as he was beaten on the near post by Ramsey who took off celebrating.

This early exchange of goals set the tempo of the game as both teams created plenty of chances. In the 19th minute, Roberto Firmino produced the moment of the match as he curled one past a diving Petr Cech. The Brazilian has picked up a habit of enjoying the big games and Klopp showed his appreciation in the post match press conference.

Liverpool once again took the lead but never looked comfortable as the Gunners came out hard. A deflected shot produced a corner for Arsenal, their first of the game. Liverpool never looked comfortable defending set plays this season and a near post flick by Giroud was enough to get Arsenal back on level terms 25 minutes into the game.

The lively start to the game never lost its momentum as both sides played some good football. Arsenal should have had the lead but a scuffed shot from Giroud after a superb run from Walcott saw the teams go into half time at 2-2.

Liverpool were full of energy in the first half and the half time break gave them a much-needed rest. Arsenal on the other hand had to try a little bit harder to try and sneak a winner in the second half. No changes from either side at the whistle for the second half was blown as both sides looked for a repeat of the first half.

Giroud produced a moment of brilliance in the 55th minute with a superb turn and an even better finish to give Arsenal the lead for the first time on the night. Arsenal after the goal sat back and started to hit Liverpool on the counter.

The game continued to produce chances for both teams but seemed to get away from Liverpool even as Christian Benteke was bought in by Klopp for the last 20 minutes. But the game had another twist waiting in the injury time.

Joe Allen who came on as a substitute latched on to a header from Benteke to put home a late equalizer that set Klopp off on a celebratory run. It was a hard fought point for Liverpool while Arsenal will rue their missed chances that could have finished the game.

As the scoreline suggest, this encounter brought out the flaws in defense of both the teams. Arsenal who are genuine title contenders have no right to let 3 goals in while Liverpool will be happy with the draw and will hope that the energy in the mid-field provided by Can, Milner and Henderson helps them in their next game against Manchester United.

As for Arsenal, their trip to Stoke will test them after this grueling encounter and a similar result might see them lose ground in the race to the title. 

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