I’ll be honest, I did not expect Arsenal to get a result today. I thought the combination of the Gunners’ injuries on defense and Liverpool’s potent attack would not go well. I was expecting a 3-1 or 4-1 to Liverpool scoreline. I was wrong.
Arsenal put together their best performance of the season and could have won today. They also easily could have lost - the game was just that close. It was a fantastic match.
There were so many things to love about the Gunners’ performance today, here’s what stood out to me:
- Arsenal broke their trend of playing poorly in the first half. Liverpool had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside and a Virgil Van Dijk header found the post, but other than that, the Gunners probably had the better of the action (and probably should have scored).
- Bernd Leno should retain the number 1 spot in goal. His distribution is so much better than Petr Cech’s and vital to the way Unai Emery wants to play. He should have done better on the Liverpool goal, but he was also a bit unlucky on it. He got a hand to the cross, it hit the back of Holding’s foot, and went DIRECTLY to James Milner. He made up for it, however, with his save on Virgil Van Dijk’s free header off a corner.
- Alexandre Lacazette’s equalizer was a thing of beauty. The patience, composure, and skill he showed to recycle the chance and bend his shot into the far corner was world-class. It was also a great ball from Alex Iwobi to put him in.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s movement is fantastic. He tormented Trent Alexander-Arnold down the left side for the entire first half. I’m not entirely sure why he was the one who made way for Aaron Ramsey.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan struggled a bit today. He couldn’t seem to find the final ball, and his first touch was lacking at times. He did get himself into promising positions and was involved in the play, so that’s something. He also did well to help out defensively, which is why I think he got the starting nod.
- Alex Iwobi made a difference when he came on. He got on the ball, ran at defenders, and created chaos. As I mentioned, he played the ball that put Lacazette in for the goal. He's really been fun to watch this season. If he can improve his defensive play (which is why I think he didn’t start), he’ll be an absolute monster.
- Hats off to the defense. Liverpool was always going to get their chances, but the back four did very well to limit them. Rob Holding was magnificent, Shkodran Mustafi was solid, and Hector Bellerin / Sead Kolasinac gutted it out. Neither fullback likely would have played had it not been such a big game - reports were that both were less than 100% health-wise.
- Lucas Torreira is a beast. MOTM for me.
Today’s draw runs the Gunners’ unbeaten streak to 14 in all competitions. It also keeps Arsenal in touch with the top of the league and within striking distance should any of the clubs ahead of them falter. Arsenal may not be in the top 4 at the end of the weekend, but you can’t be too disappointed (or disappointed at all, really) with how things have gone so far this season. The team is definitely trending in the right direction.