We demand more Friday night lights at the Emirates. After the Gunners opened the season in August with a wildly entertaining Friday night win over Leicester City, the Arsenal vs Liverpool match in North London was arguably even better to start the festive fixtures on Friday. Liverpool scored the first two goals before three goals in five minutes from Arsenal, only for the Reds to equalize in a fantastic 3-3 draw between two of the best clubs in the English Premier League.
NBCSN announcer Arlo White fittingly summed up the match with a Star Wars-themed quote in the midst of a wacky second half: “It’s not often I quote Luke Skywalker, … but I think the phrase ‘This isn’t going to go the way you think’ is apt.” The dramatic shifts in momentum and emotional rollercoaster experienced by supporters of both clubs may have been better than The Last Jedi, and a full hour shorter.
This match had a bit of everything: awesome attacking, deplorable defending, ghastly goalkeeping and glorious goals. In the end, a 3-3 draw was about right for the two clubs fighting for Top 4 Champions League spots.
Liverpool took the early lead through Philippe Coutinho, though not in the typical Coutinho manner. The little Brazilian got his noggin on the end of a deflected, looping cross from Mohammed Salah in the 26th minute to put the Reds ahead.
A lovely looping header from Philippe Coutinho! #ARSLIV #YNWA pic.twitter.com/qckAOGS3gU— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 22, 2017
The play began from some lackluster defending by Arsenal on a throw in and Liverpool is a team that will punish lazy defending, unless they’re playing Everton.
Liverpool had a number of other chances in the first half, including a one-on-one save by Petr Cech and Sadio Mane hitting an acrobatic scissor kick on the ensuing rebound just over the crossbar.
Jurgen Klopp’s side finally added a second seven minutes into the second half through Salah, who was relatively quiet during the match when defended by young Arsenal left back Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But when halftime substitute Shkodran Mustafi gave too much space to Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer curled in a shot past Cech to make it 2-0.
Then Arsenal scored three goals — two of them brilliant — in 4 minutes, 45 seconds.
The first came a minute after Salah’s goal thanks to an Alexis Sanchez header. The Chilean simply wanted it more than Liverpool defender Joe Gomez, who failed to attack the ball and allowed Alexis to slip in first.
Three minutes after that, Granit Xhaka ripped a firecracker at Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet, who could do nothing but flail a hand at the projectile as the Gunners equalized.
XHAKA! @Arsenal are level! pic.twitter.com/mcIztB9fhB— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 22, 2017
But Arsenal wasn’t done. In the 58th minute, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette worked a lovely one-two, with the German hitting an Ozil bounce shot past Mignolet and stunningly the Gunners were in the lead after going down 2-0 six minutes earlier.
But Liverpool being Liverpool — and Arsenal being Arsenal — there were always going to be more goals.
In the 71st minute, Roberto Firmino found some space in between the Arsenal center backs and, picked out by Emre Can, equalized with a powerful blast Cech was unable to keep out.
Unfortunately, neither side was able to find a late winner. Hopefully, Arsenal vs Liverpool is just the beginning of a thrilling next couple weeks of Premier League football.