Robin van Persie’s incredible run of goal scoring continued in the most spectacular and baffling of instances yesterday at Anfield as Arsenal fought back from a 1-0 deficit.
Arsenal were outclassed in every aspect of the game except for the scoresheet. It is not often Arsenal’s midfield is outplayed but they struggled to gain possession and hold onto the ball.
Liverpool looked dangerous early and had several shots denied by the stunning Woicech Szczesny.
19 minutes into the game Suarez set off on another terrific run, linked up with Dirk Kuyt and dived over the sliding Szczesny. Replays confirmed most people’s reactions, that Suarez had added to his list of footballing felonies with yet another dive in the box, but Liverpool were rewarded for his cowardice and Kuyt stepped up to take the penalty.
Szczesny, and karma, had other ideas, as the young Pole instinctively denied Kuyt on the penalty strike then acrobatically dived to deny the tap in. He is truly the unsung hero of Arsenal’s season thus far. He has had little to no protection at times but he has held his own in the last line of defense, and at just 21 years of age, he is surely a superstar of the future, if he is not already.
It didn’t take long for Liverpool to respond though, peppering the Arsenal goal with shots and crosses, forcing the nervy gunners defense into tentatively clearing the ball at every occasion. Jordan Henderson countered off an Arsenal turnover and played a low cross into the six yard box where Laurent Koscielny deflected it into his own net, attempting to clear it out of bounds.
Anfield went into raptures as they believed they were on their way back into the race for fourth position.
Liverpool continued to press and several times almost had a second.
Bacary Sagna delivered an inch perfect cross, on a rare Arsenal attacking raid, finding van Persie at the near post who cooly played it past Pepe Reina for an equalising goal in the 31st minute.
Arsenal nervously held on till half time, with Liverpool strongly in control of the match.
After the break Arsenal were noticeably more patient with the ball as they set about attempting to even the possession rates.
Mikel Arteta suffered a sickening but accidental blow to the head from the shoulder of Jordan Henderson and was taken straight to hospital with a severe concussion. It was a huge blow to Arsenal as he has been one of the keys to their turnaround this season.
Liverpool still looked more likely to break the deadlock, but Arsenal began to build in the last 10 minutes of the game.
The fourth official revealed a lengthy 8 minutes of injury time, much to the joy of the Kop as they believed they had the better chance of taking all three points. How wrong they were.
Alex Song played a stunning lofted ball for Robin van Persie in the 92nd minute of the match, who struck it first time with the inside of his foot and past Reina to give Arsenal an astonishing lead with a handful of minutes remaining in injury time. The away fans echoed a roar that was heard in North London as they continued their stunning second half performances.
Liverpool failed to provide another serious attempt on goal before the whistle was blown and Arsenal had taken all three points.
After the game Kenny Dalglish and most of the media said Arsenal didn’t deserve to win the game. I am never a believer of someone not earning a win. If you score more goals than your opponent you deserved the points. Liverpool certainly didn’t deserve nothing, but taking away what Arsenal did is unfair and unjustified.
Robin van Persie was again man of the match, but even he admitted that Woicech Szczesny was the best player on the pitch.
Arsenal move three points clear of Chelsea in the battle for fourth, and amazingly sit just 4 points behind Tottenham, who host Manchester United tonight.