TITLE HOPEFULS ARSENAL travelled north to take on Liverpool at Anfield in a mouth-watering Premier League showdown. We went minute-by-minute. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @thescore_ie or comment below.
Full-time: Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1
11.51 – Let’s football.
League leaders Arsenal return to the scene of so many of their memorable clashes through the years; Anfield. Liverpool lie in fourth spot, just two points ahead of local rivals Everton. Brendan Rodgers has named his team for the game:
Let’s have those predictions.
11.56 – And here’s the Arsenal XI tasked with keeping their title bid on track:
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Wilshere, Arteta, Ox-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud.
12.02 – Ray Parlour was in Dublin this week to promote Setanta’s coverage of this game and others. Here’s what he told our Ben Blake:
“It’s a massive game for both clubs. With an early kick-off you can always get one over on the teams around you but Anfield is a really tough place to go.
“Walking down that tunnel you get butterflies because it’s a great stadium. I’m sure the Arsenal players will be a little bit nervous but also confident that they can get a result. If the do get a win it will be a big three points.”
12.08 – David O’Leary’s perched outside Anfield with BT Sport’s Jake Humphries and Steve McManaman, recalling that night in 1989 when Micky Thomas won the title for Arsenal.
12.15 – There was five Irish internationals on the Anfield pitch that May night in 1989. (Can you name them without Googling?)
This weekend Ireland’s management ticket are on the road again, to paraphrase Willie Nelson, but our squad is drawn from teams further down the food chain these days. Here’s where Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will be over the coming days.
Macca’s trying to convince Luis Suarez that he once wore No 7 at Anfield too.
12.20 – Here’s what Arsene Wenger had to say about this fixture during the week:
“Saturday is a good moment for us to win a big game because we have a big month ahead. We need to dominate the game in order to keep (Luis) Suarez and (Daniel) Sturridge quiet. We must control possession.
“I am convinced mentally we are prepared, we have shown great response when we’ve had difficulties. Physically we are prepared as well, we need to rotate so we need as many players available as we can.
“The closer you get to the end, the more vital every game becomes. But we are enjoying it and we have fought very hard.”
12.45 – An early kick-off doesn’t hamper a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone before a minute’s applause for one-time Liverpool striker Tony Hateley who passed away this week.
12.47 – Michael Owen says the title race would be all over by now if Arsenal had managed to sign Suarez. Agree?
We’re under way.
12.48 – GOAL! Martin Skrtel scores within two minutes from a Stevie G free-kick.
12.50 – What a start. The much-maligned Michael Owen warned us that Liverpool would start like the clappers and he was, let’s be honest, quite right.
Steven Gerrard whipped in a free-kick from the left and the big centre half bundled it in off his thigh. Game on, Ger.
12.56 – Strange one from a nervy-looking Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. Under little pressure, he bats the ball off Flanagan rather than catch it. It’s cleared behind for a corner which comes to nothing however. Coming up on 10 minutes elapsed and Liverpool have obviously had the better of this.
12.59 – GOAL! Martin Skrtel is on a hat-trick and Arsenal are rocked on their heels! Steven Gerrard is again the provider for the centre half. Moments later Daniel Sturridge was through on goal but couldn’t manage to convert. This is nuts.
13.00 – Oh my days. Luis Suarez almost scored one of the goals of the season just now. He took the ball on the full turn from 30 yards and wellied it off the base of the post.
Arsenal need to get a foothold in this game and quick. What do you think?
13.04 – GOAL! Raheem Sterling makes it 3-0 after 17 minutes or so.
13.06 – What a performance this is from Liverpool. They’re now three goals to the good but, to be frank, it could be twice that.
The third came from Raheem Sterling who was deemed onside when Luis Suarez threaded a ball between the Gunners’ defence and goal. Anfield seems to be absolutely rocking.
What do you make of this then?
13.08 – GOAL! Daniel Sturridge gets in on the act after he’s played through.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this’ says Michael Owen who seems quite happy with the first 20 minutes here. Ridiculous stuff.
From Arsenal’s point of view, this is the worst start possible to a very, very tough run of games.
13.16 – Here’s that second goal from big Marty:
13.29 – From the always good value Barry Glendenning at the Guardian:
Arsenal fans can at least console themselves with the knowledge that their team has overturned a four-goal half-time deficit before: last season against Reading they were 4-0 down and won 7-5.
File under: clutching at straws, perhaps?
13.32 – This is cruel:
Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere has clattered into Stevie G, which was duly noted by the England skipper.
13.51 – And we’re off again. Let’s see if Arsene Wenger’s half-time team talk has had any influence on his team.
13.52 – Jack Wilshere shows some ambition at last as he drives forward and cuts across Jordan Henderson who’s booked for fouling his England colleague. Santi Cazorla takes the free-kick but whips it high and over the bar.
13.57 – GOAL! Raheem Sterling 51′
13.58 – This is ridiculous. Arsenal fans are streaming down the steps and heading for home. Raheem Sterling was played through and after a lucky ricochet off the Arsenal keeper, he scored his second of the game.
14.05 – Almost an hours in and five goals down, Arsene Wenger is going to make some changes. Looks like Gibbs, Rosicky and Podolski.
As I type, Luis Suarez almost catches WojciechSzczesny napping with a free-kick attempt at the top corner. Think Gary McAllister in the derby via Montevideo.
14.12 – Iain Dowie’s impressed face:
14.15 – GOAL! Mikel Arteta 67′
14.16 – The Arsenal skipper slams a penalty down the centre of the goal. Arteta’s counterpart Gerrard took down the Ox in the box and the Spaniard tucked away the subsequent spotter.
14.26 – So what does this mean for Arsenal’s season then? Man City will be expected to go top later today with a win in Norwich while Arsene Wenger will attempt to rally his dressing-room ahead of a run of Man Utd, Liverpool again in the Cup and Munich.
14.31 – Unlucky Fantasy Football managers, Luis Suarez heads off without a goal to make way for Iago Aspas. He was class though.
Sterling is denied a hat-trick by the Gunners keeper when he breaks through again.
14.36 – Remember that Suarez attempt I was no about in the first half? You remember stuff I say, right?
Well this is it:
That’s the rest of the afternoon sorted.
14.40 – Full-time: What a result. Arsenal now face a major test of their credentials while Liverpool have again given notice that they’re a serious team. What did you make of it?
14.42 – Thanks for all you who tried to answer the pre-game teaser about the five Irish internationals on the pitch for the famous 1989 Liverpool-Arsenal game (no-one).
Here’s the answer anyway: Ray Houghton, Steve Staunton, Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge and David O’Leary.
Thanks too for your company throughout; keep the comments coming.