ARSENAL and Liverpool played out a thrilling goalless draw on Monday night as the home side’s wait for a first Premier League win at the Emirates this season continues.
It was a game of two halves, with the visitors dominating the opening period, only to be denied on several occasions by the brilliance of Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
However, Arsene Wenger’s team took control of proceedings after half-time, with only the woodwork and some near misses denying them a first league goal at home this season.
Arsenal were forced to make two changes from the side that beat Crystal Palace last time out, with centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny both missing through illness and a back injury respectively.
And to cover that huge hole in the back, Wenger opted to give Calum Chambers his first start of the campaign alongside Gabriel in an unfamiliar-looking partnership.
Liverpool, though, were also missing two key players, with captain Jordan Henderson and fellow midfielder Adam Lallana out injured, with Lucas Leiva and Emre Can replacing them, while Roberto Firmino was also handed his Reds debut following his big-money move from Hoffenheim in the summer.
However, it was the Reds who could have taken an early lead after a lovely passing move involving captain James Milner and Christian Benteke, with the Belgium international picking out the onrushing Philippe Coutinho, only for the playmaker’s shot to crash against the underside of the bar and bounce to safety.
That warning shot appeared to stir Arsenal into life, with the hosts responding by very nearly opening the scoring just minutes later through Aaron Ramsey, who had the ball in the back of the net.
However, the Welshman’s effort was ruled out for offside, although on closer inspection it should have stood, with the player level as he was played through on goal down the right-hand side of Liverpool’s penalty area.
Thereafter, though, it was all Liverpool as a combination of nervousness in the home defence, and some slick passing and interplay from the visitors’ forward players, cut Arsenal to ribbons, with only Cech keeping them in the contest at the break.
Several times the experienced shot stopper prevented Liverpool from scoring, most impressively when the ‘keeper denied Benteke from opening the scoring with a brilliant point-blank save just before the interval.
Liverpool will have felt hard done by not to have gone in leading at the break, especially after Coutinho produced a moment of brilliance a minute before half-time, only for the Brazilian’s curling effort from the left-hand edge of the area to be tipped on to the post by the impressive Cech.
However, after half-time it was Arsenal who stepped up the pace, no doubt with their manager’s words still ringing in their ears, and Wenger will no doubt feel his team should have taken all three points given their second-half exertions.
Alexis Sanchez was unlucky on the hour-mark when his near-post shot from a tight angle struck the outside of Mignolet’s post, after the Chile international had been slipped through by Olivier Giroud.
Meanwhile, Giroud himself was also unfortunate on two occasions not to get a touch to balls fizzed across the Liverpool six-yard box, although it was the Frenchman who wasted the best opening of the second period 20 minutes from time.
Faced with only Mignolet to beat from close range, the striker appeared to slip while taking his shot, but the Liverpool ‘keeper still needed to be at his best to turn his effort behind for a corner.
And while both sides had half chances late on to steal a win, a draw was perhaps the right result given their respective halves. – Sky Sports