Despite combining for 32 shots in a fast-paced game made slippery by steady rain, neither Arsenal nor Liverpool could find the back of the net in their Week 3 matchup at the Emirates -- the 47th matchup between the Premier League heavyweights (now at 15 Arsenal wins, 16 Liverpool wins, and 16 draws).
The game was a little bit full of dread for Arsenal fans even before it started, thanks to the lineup announcement missing two familiar names -- center backs Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Koscielny's slightly tweaked back and Mertesacker's vague illness meant that Calum Chambers and Gabriel would earn rare starts against one of the Premier League's top teams. So that was great.
And the inexperienced pairing showed through the first half -- while did Gabriel had some heroic goal-saving tackles to his credit, Chambers looked largely out of his depth throughout. Liverpool got off some truly terrifying shots, including a Philippe Coutinho crossbar-rattler in the third minute, a 39th-minute point blank shot from Christian Benteke that was saved brilliantly by Petr Cech, and a wicked Coutinho curler just before the halftime whistle that Cech was just able to nudge onto the post and away from danger with fingertips.
But Arsenal had the game's lone goal in the eighth minute -- today's surprise captain Santi Cazorla, with one of his few on-target passes all day, led Aaron Ramsey down the left channel, and Ramsey finished coolly in an onside position ahead of Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel. But the linesman didn't see it that way, and the score remained 0-0.
Arsenal looked better in the second half, taking the game to Liverpool as decisively as Liverpool took it them in the first half, but Simon Mignolet made some game-preserving saves, and Liverpool benefitted from a non-call on what looked like a legitimately cardable Dejan Lovren takedown of Olivier Giroud in front of goal in the 69th minute. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on as subs, and The Ox had several promising attempts on goal, but the magic force fields around both goals held.
Arsenal wasn't without its second-half mental lapses -- Alexis nearly gave away a goal late on a bad pass that turned into a full-field counterattack, and Cazorla (Captain? More like Craptain) had some egregious giveaways as well. And yet, improbably, Arsenal recorded its first clean sheet of the year and made some progress up the table -- though the scoreless draw only elevated them to 9th, one place ahead of Chelsea on goal differential, and five points behind the league-leading, don't-look-now-but-they-might-have-remembered-how-to-play-defense Manchester City.
Today's post-match song: