Today was the Liverpool vs. Arsenal match, which holds a special place in The18's heart because two of our staff writers, Sam Klomhaus and Ivan Anich, are diehard fans of Liverpool and Arsenal, respectively. We made them watch the game together (plus a few cameos from Connor the intern), and hilarity ensued. Here's what transpired (Liverpool in italics, Arsenal regular):
Liverpool’s lineup: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Milner, Henderson; Lallana, Firmino, Ibe
Arsenal's lineup: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Flamini, Ramsey; Ozil, Walcott, Campbell; Giroud
This lineup is way better than what I thought Liverpool could throw out there. Henderson, Sakho and Ibe returning early from injury helped. Wouldn’t have minded Lucas in there instead of Milner, just to be safe.
1’ And we’re off. I predict Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool with Giroud and Campbell to score.
5’ Misplaced pass from Can. Hardly impressed.
6’ Lallana just made one of those faces attackers make when they mess up after a good run into the box. This bodes well. Good tackle Per.
8’: Liverpool look aggressive early. Can and Moreno particularly on the front foot. Bodes well for Liverpool as long as Ozil doesn’t sneak in behind them.
9’ Someone on Liverpool's bench literally looks like a troll.
10: GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLL!!! Firmino picks up a Can rebound and slots it home. Great play to stop Arsenal clearing a corner, then making them pay for it.
10’ Well the gegenpress or whatever you call it worked there. Walcott gave the ball away in a terrible area which lead to a dangerous shot by Can on the 18. The rebound fell to Firmino and there was almost nothing that we could do. F*** gegenpressing.
Roberto Firmino's sweet goal gave Liverpool the lead v. Arsenal, but it didn't last long. https://t.co/pGmM19Gb4X
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 13, 2016
11’ This is going to be a real test of Arsenal’s resolve now. Liverpool looks hungry. Again, f*** gegenpressing.
13’ Sam just said, “f*ck” under his breath and told himself to stay off Twitt — OH AND RAMSEY HAS DONE IT. I believe Sam’s exact words regarding Ramsey before the game were “Ramsey’s terrible.” F*** gegenpressing. Clinical finish from Ramsey.
14’ And Liverpool do what they’ve done all season, conceding immediately after scoring. Probably the least surprising possible turn of events in this game. Sakho missed the ball on a header and instead caught Olivier Giroud’s head. They both immediately surrender because they're French. Special thanks to both center backs for not tracking Ramsay’s run.
Aaron Ramsey goal against Liverpool (1-1) https://t.co/5eu7qGCN3m
— Reddit Soccer (@Soccer__Reddit) January 13, 2016
15’ Giroud’s been injured throughout all this. He took a knock to the head in the lead up to Ramsey’s goal. He’s holding his head. Something many women and men wish they could do. Gorgeous bastard.
17’ How Liverpool respond here is crucial. This is not the most mentally-strong team in history, although Henderson being out there should help.
18’ And he’s back. Giroud’s back on the pitch. Good to see. We don’t need anymore injuries.
18’ Giroud has returned with what appears to be toilet paper stuck on his head.
19’ I’m not liking how much the ball — f*** off Firmino. Just as I was about to say I’m not liking how much Liverpool has been in Arsenal’s half. That happens. I hate that I think this goal is good. Damn it, and I just saw Klopp celebrating. F*** gegenpressing.
19’ FIRMINO AGAIN HOLY SH*T I’M HYPERVENTILATING
20’ Great tackle by Henderson, great find by Milner, great rip by Firmino. All three have been involved in both goals in exactly those capacities.
WHAT. A. GOAL! https://t.co/y3TpRMqSQH
— Liverpool FC Vines (@LFC_Vines) January 13, 2016
21’ Jesus f*cking christ Moreno hits the cross bar. He was offside but still, this doesn’t look good.
21’ Moreno off the bar, but called offside. I’m loving this Bellerin-Moreno Spanish outside back duel. Fun to watch.
22’ And Arsene’s up from his seat gesticulating to the players. Again, not a good sign.
24’ Cech's goal kicks seem to be the only time play is focused on Liverpool’s end, and it hasn’t stayed there long.
24’ Jordan Henderson is eating Arsenal’s center-mids alive. Can’t get anything past him right now.
25’ And a chance off what I thought was an overly isolated play on the wing by Walcott. The ball ends up bouncing in the box —
25’ AAAAHHH nervy moment, back line gets beat, Mignolet comes of his line, Sakho clears off the line for a corner...
25’ Which Arsenal immediately scores on. Mignolet-nutmeg-own-goal-olimpico special. Don’t see that every day.
25’ AND GIROUD F***ING SCORES. YOU DON’T NEED POSSESSION WHEN YOU SCORE GOALS. F*** GEGENPRESSING WE HAVE GIROUD. Questions asked of Mignolet, something I hope I type a lot more today. The ball came to the near post from a corner where Giroud got a touch which megged Mignolet.
— Arsenal TSN (@ArsenalTSN) January 13, 2016
26’ Bad day for Mignolet so far. Nutmeg-olimpico-own-goal, plus got beat on a saveable near-post shot for Arsenal’s first.
27’ Arsenal is getting more of a foothold.
27’ On the replay of Arsenal’s goal it looks like Giroud is the one who scored. So no olimpico, not quite an own goal. Still an awful howler from Mignolet.
28’ On second look at Giroud’s goal it’s hard to blame Mignolet. It was a bang-bang play.
28’ Oh my God Giroud how do you miss that? It’s those things that make your goals per game ratio hard to believe. It was great build-up that led to a cross that led to Giroud attempting a finish literally a yard off the goal line, in front of an open net, and missing.
29’ On the real, this game is super fun to watch. Both teams playing fast, nobody sitting back.
29’ Connor commented that this could be the game of the year. It’s looking exciting, that’s for sure. It’s like i’m watching El Clasico sometimes.
30’ Watching the replay of that Giroud miss is absolutely brutal.
30’ I love Emre Can except for his complete inability to shoot a soccer ball.
31’ Wenger and Klopp are chumming it up. Your mind games have no chance here, Jurgen.
31’ I can’t tell if Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Venger are joking around or super pissed at each other. Either way, fun times.
— BetBright (@BetBright) January 13, 2016
33’ Things appear to have settled down a bit.
34’ some good pressing of Arsenal’s own leads to a Campbell chance that he squanders. That was not impressive, Joel.
34’ Someone explain to Alberto Moreno he shouldn’t pass to players on the other team who are in his own penalty box. Good block from Sakho on the shot there.
36’ Liverpool are doing that thing where they can’t keep possession for five seconds.
37’ Jordon Ibe with a cross that lands in Ireland.
37’ And Jordon Ibe puts in the worst excuse for a cross you’ll see all day. Gtfo.
41’ With five minutes left the teams have settled in a bit. The open play from before is gone, which is a shame, because for a minute there this game made Mad Max: Fury Road seem like Mario Kart.
43’ That was a good counter of sorts from Arsenal. Walcott didn’t make the most of his shot but the space was there. Corner kick to Arsenal.
43’ Sakho with another great block, although I wish he didn’t keep having to make those.
44’ Lallana takes out Ozil and is arguing about something. I would crack a joke but Lallana is just too mediocre of a player to matter.
44’ Lallana and Ozil get a little frisky, leading to the first contested drop-ball I’ve seen in a while. (Also I'm editing this and just saw Ivan's Lallana comment. Bold words from a fan whose team started Mathieu Flamini at center-mid).
45’ As we watch the replays of the goals Sam whispers to me “we need a new goalie.” Which is a bit like saying the Chinese stock market needs some confidence.
45+' A missed Mamadou Sakho pass leads to an Arsenal counterattack, but Liverpool’s central midfield honey badgers snuff it out.
45+’ Oh Christ. the ball fell to Firmino in Arsenal’s box and he took it on the turn. I thought that was going in, and holy shit I just saw the replay…this game is ridiculous. His shot skimmed off the top of the corner of the crossbar.
45+' Firmino narrowly misses a cracking volley. Unlucky.
45+’ For all of you watching at home who called the final touch of the half being a Mignolet pass, I salute you, and hope you are playing some sort of Bingo because that’s just not supposed to happen very often.
Half time: A pretty even half, I’d say. Firmino having his best game so far for Liverpool, Mignolet decidedly not doing that. 2-2. Fun game.
Second half predictions: the safest one is my knuckles turning white, but I’m going to be optimistic and say Liverpool win 4-3, with Firmino getting his hat trick and Emre Can stoppage time winner.
Second half prediction: I think Walcott gets one, and as much as I hate to say it the game slows down. 3-2 to the Arsenal.
Second half underway. Hold on to your butts.
46’ and we’re off. Full disclosure: regardless of my prediction I hope this game stays as hyped as a Justin Bieber fan locked inside his tour bus.
46’ Joel Campbell would like that one back. He shot a close-range volley halfway to the moon. Also: Alberto Moreno is not good at covering crosses, probably because he’s like 5’7”.
48’ And Moreno skies a clear cut chance after a Milner cross falls to him.
48’ And Moreno does a very good imitation of Joel Campbell on the other side.
51’ Monreal looking good against Ibe so far this half. As I type that Walcott goes on a great run and shoots from just outside the center of the 18. It goes wide but that’s what I like to see from the man I picked to score.
51’ Moreno with one of the more brave back-passes I’ve seen, through two Arsenal attackers to Mignolet.
53’ Man, when Jurgen wants to look mad he looks like a character straight out of a zombie/ax murder movie. RAWRHLHL!!!
53’ A Clyne handball leads to an Arsenal free kick…
54’ Giroud on his knees after a chance. If I had a dollar…
54’ That ends with Giroud’s header way off the mark.
55’ AND IT’S F*CKING BEAUTIFUL. BELLERIN WITH A WORLD-CLASS SPRINTER’S STEAL AND RUN LEADS TO A LAY OFF FOR CAMPBELL WHO SQUARES IT TO GIROUD WHO F*CKING TURNS AND SHOOTS IT IN LIKE A BEAUTIFUL MAN IN THE WILD WILD F*CKING WEST!!! Again, Giroud shuts his haters (me) up.
55’ And Arsenal scores again. James Milner’s fault, that one. Dove in on a pass, got left for dead, Arsenal score. Special thanks to Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho for looking very extremely confused back there.
Giroud scores his second. pic.twitter.com/wl599tUC8y
— Paulo Osorio (@Natogooner) January 13, 2016
56’ Milner is hurt, so he may have actually been left for dead there. Liverpool now chasing the game for the first time.
57’ Free kick awarded to Arsenal in a dangerous area. Oh God what I would Give for Ozil to put this in.
57’ Emre Can concedes a free-kick in a very dangerous position…
58’ Which Liverpool clear, mercifully.
60’ Liverpool keep screwing up simple passes and it’s annoying.
63’ A good block from Kolo and Clyne leads to a less-than-effective Liverpool counter.
63’ Some good play from Arsenal. Transitioning from defense to attack well, and getting the ball to Giroud into good positions afterwards.
64’ Jordon Ibe with a sweet two-hand push on one of Arsenal’s defenders. Lucky to avoid a yellow there.
66’ Henderson tries a Stevie G special. Ended up being more of an Emre Can special.
66’ Benteke in for Milner. Evidently Klopp felt Liverpool had too much movement up front.
66' Benteke comes on for Liverpool. Interesting that they decided to take out Milner. Hopefully this weakens Liverpool's midfield more than it strengthens their attack.
68’ Sakho goes for a dribble. Doesn’t work.
69’ Liverpool are not good at near post corners and they should stop trying them. Moreno tries a Stevie G special and gets a little closer than Henderson.
69’ Several crosses come in from Liverpool. None fall to Benteke and none result in shots on target.
70’ Joel Campbell goes down like Nathaniel Clyne shot him. Replay shows that Clyne only attempted to shoot him, but missed.
71’ Moreno tries another Stevie G special, gets blocked.
71’ An Arsenal counter sputters out as it crosses into Liverpool’s defensive third. Players look tired.
74’ Yet another Arsenal counterattack falls apart. Things are not looking very inspiring. It’s a good thing that Liverpool have been nagging all of their shots.
75’ Moreno tries another long shot, and he appears to not be improving that skill over the course of the last few minutes.
75’ The Ox and Gibbs come in for Campbell and Walcott. Looks like Wenger’s gonna play Gibbs as a winger again. While Gibbs has scored a goal in that position, it’s definitely move that will attempt to shut the game down.
76’ A good look for Lallana is blocked by Mertesacker, which is sad because Mertesacker is about as fleet of foot as the Washington Monument.
78’ Monreal and Ibe go at it again. After a struggle, Ibe eventually gets the upper hand and sends in a cross which bounces around dangerously and leads to some corners. As an Arsenal fan, everY minute that Liverpool is in our end is full of miniature terrifying moments.
80’ Kolo Toure saves everyone’s a**es on a counterattack, then Arsenal counters again and Simon Mignolet saves everyone’s a**es. He also open-hand slaps Aaron Ramsey in the head.
80’ Giroud holds up a clearance and wins a foul to relieve pressure on his defense. If he does that literally every time he touches the ball, considering his two goals, he’ll end up man of the match.
82’ Joe Allen on for Emre Can, so my prediction will not come to fruition. Also Joe Allen is playing. All is lost.
84’ Simon Mignolet does a little move in the box to shake an Arsenal attacker, which is something that should never happen but happens far too often.
85’ It’s time to kill time. I’d take another goal but if we just play tik-taca in the middle third for the rest of the game that’s fine by me.
87’ Aaaaand Mikel Arteta is coming on for Ozil. If that’s not a “lock it up, boys. We’re going home” substitution than I don’t know what is.
87’ Ozil off, Arteta on for Arsenal, so they’re firmly in “let’s see this one out and not get scored on” territory. Even the subs are behind the ball.
88’ And someone who I don’t recognize at all is coming on for Liverpool. He looks like he should be some kind of warrior during the Crusades. I hope he’s terrible.
88’ Lallana off, Steven Caulker makes his Liverpool debut. Caulker is a center back and defensive midfielder. Lallana is an attacking midfielder. You would think the score was reversed with that change. Maybe Klopp just needs someone large to run around.
89’ Monreal vs. Ibe has been one of the most frequent duels this second half. Monreal has looked good. This bodes well considering Mr. Crusader appears to be attacking his side as well.
90’ Moreno tries a Stevie G free-kick special. Hits the wall.
90’ GO ON YOU F*CKING REDS!!!!!! I take back every bad thing I ever said about Joe Allen (which is a lot). Puts a cross (headed by Benteke) right where it needs to be, which is interesting because he’s 5’5” and should have no business getting anywhere near crosses.
90’ M*therf*cking Joe Allen. You look like a hobo. You look Like Tarzan’s lame brother that never learned how to swing on tree branches so you chose to play games on the ground. F*ck Joe Allen.
Joe Allen breaking Arsenal hearts, Jurgen Klopp going nuts, snow at Anfield. Just another Wednesday. https://t.co/PBXCT00ZA4
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) January 13, 2016
THE WELSH XAVI. Three minutes of stoppage time. Let’s go.
91’ Ok, now Wenger has his hands on his hips as if he was saying “WTF guys I can’t believe you’ve done this.”
90+’ Steven Caulker tries a Stevie G special because when in Rome. Right at Petr Cech.
92’ And now we’re trying to attack with Mikel Arteta. Mikel Arteta. I have more confidence in a paper cup breaking through a brick wall than I have in our attack right now.
93’ And that’s game. Damn it.
And it’s all over. A right fun, even game. Both teams will rue missed chances and feel they should’ve gotten all three points. Who could have possibly predicted a Joe Allen 90th minute equalizer? I love this sport.
Liverpool Player Ratings:
Clearly at fault for one of Arsenal’s goals, probably at fault for another. Did not cover himself in glory, did the Belgian.
His standard rating. No nonsense, no bullshit. Most consistent player on the team.
Got burned for the first and third goals. Not the best night from Toure against his former side.
Only slightly less at fault for the first and third goals than Kolo. Not his usual self in possession, either.
Had a decent game at the back but took too many long ones in the attack, especially when Liverpool were chasing the game.
A meh game for the big German, although he was the better of the two big Germans on the field. He gave away possession too many times and still can’t shoot, but pressed the hell out of Arsenal’s midfield and made them genuinely uncomfortable.
His pressing tackles led directly to Liverpool’s first two goals, and he and Can were a force to be reckoned with most of the game. Also Liverpool’s most composed midfielder in possession.
A good night for him was spoiled by getting thoroughly burned on Arsenal’s third goal. Pressed well and got himself an assist on Firmino’s second.
Didn’t do too much, but didn’t take much away. Pretty much what he’ve come to expect from him.
He and Clyne work well together down the right side. Was a constant threat all game and won more than his fair share of corners, which against Arsenal’s outside backs is a positive.
Firmino gets the Man of the Match for Liverpool in his best game yet as a Red. Could have had a first half hat trick (we’ll settle for two any time) and his movement kept Arsenal’s center backs on their toes.
Looked much better than he did last time out against Exeter, and saved Liverpool by assisting Joe Allen’s equalizer.
Joe Allen: 8
Was brought on for extra offense at the end and delivered.
Steven Caulker: 6
Mostly ran around, but he was on the field for the equalizer and didn’t caulk anything up.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Hard to blame Cech for any of the goals. He was secure when he needed to be.
Hard to blame him for the goals, but the defense he was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of didn't look solid all night.
Laurent Koscielny: 5
See "Mertesacker, Per."
Made life difficult for Ibe in the second half and looked bright in attack.
He attacked well, but he holds some blame for two of Liverpool's goals. His man scored Liverpool’s critical late equalizer, and he also let by Can’s shot that led to the rebound for Firminho’s opener.
It’s hard to give a defensive midfielder much credit in a 3-3 game in which he doesn’t score.
Scored the first equalizer, but really didn’t put his foot down in midfield.
Accrued two assists and teamed up well with Bellerin. He was a bright spot going forward.
He was solid in possession, but nothing he did really stuck out. Delivered a good corner for Giroud and Arsenal’s first.
Gave the ball away that led to Liverpool’s first goal. He was unlucky not to have an assist, but he didn’t really make much happen. I suppose he got a touch on Giroud’s first goal, but that was probably his most meaningful contribution.
Man of the Match for Arsenal. His two goals were critical, and his second was as classy of a turn and finish as you’ll see. He held the ball up very well in the second half when the game needed a calming touch. He should have had a hat trick, however, and his miss on Walcott’s cross is a tough pill to swallow given the result.
What a game. Let's run it back.
Follow Ivan Anich on Twitter @yetly