Joe Gomez

Liverpool ends unbeaten run of rattled Man City

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  • Goals traded in first 45
  • Reds score three in eight minutes
  • Man City’s 30-game PL unbeaten run ends
  • B. Silva, Gundogan score late
  • MORE: JPW’s 3 things at Anfield

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah scored second half goals as Liverpool topped Man City 4-3 at Anfield on Sunday

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Leroy Sane traded first half goals before Liverpool exploded after the break. The Reds move third with the win on 47 points, 15 back of leaders City.

Bernardo Silva scored in the 84th minute and Ilkay Gundogan nabbed one in stoppage time for Man City to close the gap.

Virgil Van Dijk missed out for Liverpool with a minor leg injury.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were perhaps a bit too excited to find a fourth minute break, and an early chance was wasted but a warning sign proffered to Man City.

Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring to cap a frenetic first 10 minutes when he belted a low shot past a slow-to-react Ederson. It was 1-0.

Sergio Aguero just missed a sliding equalizer when his offside run nearly met a Kevin De Bruyne cross.

Minutes later, Leroy Sane saw a left-footed shot deflect off Dejan Lovren‘s back and out for a corner kick which City played short. And Karius was low to collect a De Bruyne shot in the 35th minute.

Fabian Delph was injured and replaced by Danilo, but it was another fullback who picked up an assist as Man City, to the surprise of few, had an answer before the break.

Kyle Walker sent a long ball over the top of the defense to Sane, and an overeager Joe Gomez let Sane’s chest trap befuddle him. The German then cooked Joel Matip before blasting an effort past Loris Karius to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Nicolas Otamendi’s fine season nearly took the next step when his header off a 51st minute corner popped off the cross bar.

Liverpool’s aim to reclaim the lead was stymied by an Ederson stop on Salah, but a corner soon followed when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attempt at a brace was partially blocked by City.

Firmino did restore the advantage when he bodied off John Stones and chipped Ederson to make it 2-1 in the 60th.

And Anfield just avoided pure bedlam when Mane cranked a shot off the cross bar less than a minute after the goal.

That wild reaction arrived in the 62nd minute when Mane got another chance. Salah blocked an Otamendi clearance, and a composed Mane betrayed his cool with a vicious strike past Ederson.

Then this, from Salah:

But it wasn’t over, somehow. Bernardo Silva was in the catbird seat to pull within two, and Gundogan just poked a ball home in the first of four minutes of stoppage time.

City then won a free kick in the fourth minute of stoppage. De Bruyne presided over the effort, as Klopp subtituted Ragnar Klavan for Mane to waste precious time.

Aguero’s diving header deceived the eyes and the rules as he was offside when his header sailed into the outside of the netting.

AT HALF: Man City answers Liverpool’s early goal (video)

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Sunday’s tilt between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield is living up to the hype.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s early goal gave Liverpool a lead, but the visitors responded through a truly venomous Leroy Sane strike before halftime.

[ MORE: Stream live | Tactical cam ]

Jurgen Klopp‘s plan had been compact high-pressure, his formation moving with and without the ball, and the Reds have allowed precious few chances to the unbeaten PL leaders.

And it was a low hard drive from Oxlade-Chamberlain (above) which opened up his options before the match was 10 minutes old, the ex-Arsenal man lacing a shot past a diving Ederson.

Man City, to the surprise of few, had an answer before the break. An overeager Joe Gomez let Sane’s chest trap befuddle him, and the German then cooked Joel Matip before blasting an effort past Loris Karius to make it 1-1.

Klopp, Wenger dismiss defensive flaws

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LONDON — On Friday night under the lights in north London with the world watching on, two of the Premier League’s great entertainers lived up to their reputations to deliver an early Christmas present.

It was beautiful. It was ugly. It was exactly what we’ve come to expect from both Arsenal and Liverpool.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The 3-3 draw showcased the good and bad of both teams and underlined why neither will seriously challenge for the Premier League title unless something changes drastically in their soccer DNA.

Speaking to reporters after the game, both Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp saluted their teams attacking instincts but stopped short of slamming their defensive displays even though both clubs have conceded the most goals among the current top seven in the PL table.

“We defended well but you know with their quality going forward they can always score a goal,” Wenger said when asked if he should have ‘parked the bus’ after going 3-2 up. “I hoped that we could score one as well. I think in the second half we were not much in trouble. They  have quality everywhere going forward and it is difficult to say that you can guarantee you don’t concede a goal.”

Saluting the spirit of his team for their comeback, Wenger conceded that the game could have been over at half time and it should have been.

Liverpool’s counter-attacking unit was rampant with Philippe Coutinho pulling the strings and popping up to head home the opener. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should have both scored and Arsenal were hanging on for dear life as their fans ripped into Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and took aim at Wenger.

“It is true that I am frustrated after 3-2 that we couldn’t keep the result but overall what can you say,” Wenger said. “It was a fantastic game with quality going forward on both sides. Us more on quick combination. Them more on fantastic counterattacking pace. That’s why it was always an interesting game.”

For neutrals, sure. But fans of both Arsenal and Liverpool have seen this kind of game far too often for their liking.

Both managers saluted the attacking play of the other and therein lies the problem. The defensive frailties of both Arsenal and Liverpool remained unchecked. Their defensive players aren’t up to scratch and unlike Chelsea last season and Manchester City this season, they’re unwilling to adopt their philosophy and change personnel defensively to solve the issue.

Klopp believes his team need to learn from their five minutes of madness which saw them concede three times just one minute after they went 2-0 up. But how many more times does a collapse of this nature need to happen for the message to sink in?

“On the whole we had more chances. It is not too cool but we had five minutes where we had obvious problems. That’s how it is. We had individual problems. In this case it is not about team defending,” Klopp said. “First goal, that’s why we shouldn’t invite crosses because when the ball is in the box it is at least 50/50, a misjudgment, obviously. Misjudgment the second goal. Third goal, a misjudgment and too deep and offside blah, blah, blah and let them go in the box and make it too easy.

“After these five minutes we reacted much better and deserved, in the end, the point. That is the minimum that we deserved tonight. The result is not what we wanted. The performance for 89 minutes is what we wanted because we played for 94. The five minutes were decisive tonight. Difficult to explain but good to learn from because we need to react differently as individual players in situations like this. We need to be much more angry than sad or disappointed. We gave them and we opened the door for them in those five minutes and they, all respect, they took the chance.”

Liverpool fought back to at least grab a point after their defensive collapse but it is a scene becoming all too familiar this season.

Klopp reacted angrily even when Roberto Firmino made it 3-3, slamming his water bottle into the ground and then apologizing to Arsenal’s fans around him who had been hurling abuse his way. The German coach called it an “aggressive celebration” and you can understand why he’d be incandescent with rage.

During this encounter, Liverpool’s collapse to draw at Sevilla after being 3-0 up in the UEFA Champions League earlier this season sprung to mind, so to did the hammerings at Tottenham and Manchester City this season. So far in 2017-18 they have conceded 12 goals in their three visits to fellow top six contenders.

Still, Klopp believes that Liverpool do not have a problem controlling games from a defensive standpoint and insists that individual mistakes are costing his team dear. Asked about James Milner‘s comments after the game that Liverpool need to learn how to be ‘boring’ in certain situations, Klopp only half agreed.

“He’s 100 percent right. Controlling the game, that’s what he means. But that was not the situation. It was not that we gave the game away,” Klopp said. “It was just that pretty much everybody was in and around the box, the cross comes in the box and we know that, we are professional football players. Everybody saw it. Joe Gomez makes a step in the right direction, shoots the ball to Tottenham and they can play with it. That was not a situation. It was a non situation but because we didn’t react well they had a goal. It was nothing about controlling the game. You can’t avoid all crosses in 95-96 minutes. Second goal, Xhaka shoots a few more times in his life like this and Simon Mignolet saves the balls in 99.99 percent of all situations. Not tonight. So, we have to take that. It is what it is.

“It is not about controlling. Yes, we need to control games but I thought we did control the game but then we opened the door for them. We should have scored. We all know that. We don’t have to talk too much about defense because it was not defense, it was individual. That is possible. Usually not all in one night. We should have scored another four and that is a big compliment for the team. Coming here and playing this kind of football and creating these kind of chances, that is not easy as well. We did it. And that is why everyone in this room thinks that if there would have been a winner tonight, it should have been Liverpool but now we have a point. Okay. That’s it.”

It should have been Liverpool. It could have been Arsenal. It was neither. Given their defensive mistakes, neither side deserved to win.

Three things learned from Arsenal v. Liverpool

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LONDON — The festive season got off to an incredible start at the Emirates Stadium on Friday as Arsenal and Liverpool went hell for leather and delivered an early Christmas present.

Liverpool were 2-0 up after 52 minutes with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah and it looked like they’d be heading for a routine away win.

Then the craziest five minutes the Emirates has ever seen arrived with Alexis Sanchez pulling one back, Granit Xhaka hammering home from distance when Simon Mignolet should’ve done better, and then Mesut Ozil dinking home to create pandemonium and make it 3-2.

Roberto Firmino made it 3-3 with less than 20 minutes to go and that’s how it would finish despite chances for both teams to win it late on.

Here’s what we learned from an encapsulating encounter at the Emirates.


DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES GALORE

Both Arsenal and Liverpool had conceded the highest number of goals in the top seven going into this game. Yep. We can all see why.

Performances littered with defensive mistakes from both teams show exactly why they’re so far behind leaders Manchester City.

This game could have easily finished 5-5 and Liverpool will be ruing their missed opportunities, especially Salah, as they should have been at least 4-0 up at half time.

Yet Arsenal hung in there, probably knowing that a Liverpool defensive collapse was coming. They didn’t have to wait long. With three goals in five minutes, Arsenal turned the game on its head as Joe Gomez was caught sleeping, Mignolet made a hash of a long-range effort and then Ozil breezed through the heart of Liverpool’s defense.

For Arsenal, they were too slow to track Coutinho’s run for his header and Wilshere was guilty of failing to follow Salah’s run when he put Liverpool 2-0 up.

Both clubs prefer to attack. We get it. But so many basic defensive errors were on show to remind us of their weaknesses.

This performance highlighted exactly why both of these teams will not be challenging for the title this season and why they deserve to be in a top four battle.


WILSHERE CONTINUES TO SHAKE OFF RUST

The mutiny at Arsenal was in full flow once again as the half time whistle approached.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, the Gunners’ two wantaway stars, were being called every name under the sun by their supporters for not trying hard enough and Arsene Wenger had abuse hurled at him readily.

After the break things changed rapidly in that crazy five minute spell and one player who received plenty of praise from the fans was Wilshere.

Optics can be deceiving with Wilshere running hard, trying to shut down Liverpool’s midfield but he struggled to cope with the power of Can and the trickery of Firmino, Coutinho and Salah dropping deeper.

Wilshere did dig in and win the ball back on multiple occasions, but he was also guilty of giving the ball away cheaply and being caught in possession.

As the game wore on Wilshere improved and after a lengthy spell on the sidelines he is starting to shake off the rust.

He isn’t back to his best but he’s getting there.


COUTINHO ON ANOTHER PLANET

Philippe Coutinho played a different game to the other players on the pitch on Friday.

The Brazilian is in simply irresistible form as he smashed a shot just wide, then whipped in two delicious crosses before heading in the opener in the first half and dictated the tempo of Liverpool’s attacks all night long.

Coutinho, 25, is untouchable as he speeds up and slows down the entire game at will.

He gave Arsenal’s defense a torrid time and in this kind of form it is easy to understand why Barcelona will push so hard to sign him in the next two transfer windows.

Coutinho is on another planet.

Stars and duds from Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

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The festive fixtures began with a gift that kept on giving (up goals) as Arsenal came back from 2-0 down in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Who was most responsible for the result, for better or worse? Here are one man’s thoughts.

Three stars

  1. Philippe Coutinho — His clever header to make it 1-0 was a neat bit of skill, and the Brazilian was very much Liverpool’s star.
  2. Mohamed Salah — Didn’t finish as clinically as he has — if he did, the Reds would’ve been up 3-0 at the break — but was a big part of everything the Reds did and attack wasn’t why they lost.
  3. Jack Wilshere — There may be egg on my face after I review the first half — JPW didn’t love JW’s day — but Wilshere did so many little things well in the second half and a big thing, too, covering near-90 yards to break up a Liverpool counter. Was asked to do a lot with Xhaka in what appeared to be close to a double pivot.

Three duds

  1. Laurent Koscielny — Just hasn’t looked right for some time, and seems to physically slip in giving away the ball at least once a match. Very poor and made a mistake in the build-up or the business end of all three goals conceded by Arsenal.
  2. Simon Mignolet — The second goal was a bullet from Xhaka, but to miss that poorly on a shot right at you that sent the match to 2-2 was regrettable.
  3. Joe Gomez — Hasn’t been miserable every match, though he certainly was on the Alexis goal. What Klopp wouldn’t give to have Nathaniel Clyne return to health.

Bonus rating

  1. Petr Cech — Was set to be one of the stars of this until he only got a piece of Firmino’s rip to make it 3-3. Three goals allowed is three goals allowed. Still, a decent game for a 3-3.
  2. Alexandre Lacazette — Was probably frustrated by his wingers not trying to find him often, but he plays a fairly complete game as a center forward. Terrific assist on Ozil’s goal.
  3. Ragnar Klavan — A couple fine interventions make us want to highlight his performance in keeping Lacazette off the score sheet. Then again, three goals allowed.
  4. Alexis Sanchez — Only apparent in short bursts during the first 45, there’s no denying his role in the electric comeback.