|Mouthwatering clash: Liverpool will be hoping for a win against leaders Arsenal this afternoon|
|Interesting match-up: Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield today - who will win?|
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have LIVE Commentary of the early afternoon kick-off at Anfield between title challengers Liverpool and title leaders Arsenal. Both sides are desperate for a win, in a battle between 4th and 1st.
A win for Liverpool will put pressure on Chelsea and Manchester City ahead of them, while The Gunners could assert themselves as real title contenders ahead of a very tough few weeks in terms of fixtures with an away win this afternoon.
|An interesting look at the stats from these deadly strikers.. will either score today?|
Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Cissokho, Toure, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez and Sturridge.
Subs: Jones, Kelly, Ibe, Moses, Aspas, Allen and Alberto.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Wilshere, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Ozil and Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Rosicky, Gnabry, Podolski and Bendtner.
12:45 - The referee has blown his whistle to start off the first match in the EPL this weekend, between Liverpool and Arsenal.
1 - GOAL! An early surprise for Liverpool, as defender Martin Skrtel heads past Szczesny into the net to break the deadlock early on in-front of their home support!
|Unstoppable: Szczesny is helpless to deny Skrtel's power header from making it 1-0.|
5: Arsenal trying to settle on the ball, away from home and a goal down in the first minute does not exactly help when you are trying to beat title contenders but there is still a lot of time to play out..
8: Good link-up play between Sturridge and Flanagan before the latter is denied by a good stop from Szczesny. Liverpool corner.
9: GOAL! Liverpool make it 2-0! Skrtel again from a corner this time, with a powerful header which flew into the top corner of the net past a helpless Szczesny.
|2 for me: Skrtel wheels away to celebrate his second of the day, within 10 minutes of play.|
13: Liverpool could have made it 3-0 there - Suarez with a thumping effort from 25 yards out which swerved past the defence and hit the post before defender Kolo Toure misses an open goal, failing to control the ball properly.
17: GOAL! Liverpool make it 3-0! The Reds go on the counter attack, with Sturridge and Sterling running down the flank before Sterling taps the ball in behind the Arsenal defence to give the hosts a comfortable 3-goal cushion. It goes from bad to worse for Arsenal, 3-0 down and the match has barely begun..
|Flexing the muscles: Sterling makes it 3-0 in the 17th minute, capping off a quick counter break|
Shades of the 4-0 thrashing match against Everton, and The Gunners are truly in trouble now... away from home against a rejuvenated Liverpool team who we know are deadly on the counter attack.
19: GOAL! Arsenal have been completely ripped apart yet again on the counter attack, with midfield playmaker Coutinho feeding the ball across the middle of the pitch into striker Daniel Sturridge who slots the ball calmly past Szczesny.
4-0 and it's getting embarrassing now. Surely it's too much...
|Slot: Sturridge made it 4-0 in the 19th minute with a cool finish past Szczesny.|
|Smile and wave: Sturridge does his trademark celebration as he scores his 15th league goal of the season|
30: Half an hour gone and Liverpool probably still cannot believe their luck. 4-0 up and it's not even half-time yet. Arsenal trying to pass their way into having a chance on goal, but nothing is working.
31: Giroud tries to drive forward into the box, but accidentally collides with a defender. Liverpool free-kick just outside their box, taken long by Mignolet.
35: Liverpool happy to keep possession of the ball away from their visitors, taking a breather.
36: Arsenal are yet to test Mignolet properly as of yet, as long as they can contain Sturridge and Suarez and test the Liverpool goalkeeper they might have a slim chance of getting back into the match.
The players look frustrated and rattled, who'd blame them.
39: Suarez is penalized for a small collision on full-back Nacho Monreal, who is being given treatment on the pitch from the physio.
40: Monreal limps off the pitch uncomfortably, while play restarts.
44: Liverpool have a free-kick after Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere tackles Coutinho from behind in an attempt to win the ball back. 6th foul from The Gunners, just before half-time.
|Frustration: Wilshere was clearly angry at the end of a poor first-half from Arsenal.|
45: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time, as Suarez has a curled effort towards goal trickle away from Szczesny's reach.
45+3: The referee blows his whistle to end the first-half of action at Anfield, where Liverpool are currently dominating the match at home against league leaders Arsenal, 4-0 up inside the first twenty minutes.
Arsenal need real improvement in the second-half if they even want the scoreline to be respectable. Defence needs to solidify, contain the threats on the counter attack and leave two holding midfielders in the centre to break up play.
Get Ozil on the ball more, to feed Giroud and Oxlade-Chamberlain along with Cazorla, and TEST Mignolet. How are you going to score, if you don't take shots?
Every time The Gunners lose the ball in midfield, they are always risking an opportunity to concede again, because as soon as Liverpool win the ball, they instantly get 4 or 5 players running forward (Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge, Henderson and Coutinho).
13:50 - The referee has blown the whistle to start the second-half at Anfield, Arsenal need to wake up if they want to get back into the game.
Show more passion, hunger and desire for the match. They have another tough game against Manchester United on Wednesday night...
46: Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere goes on a 40-yard driving run towards goal, with midfielder Jordan Henderson bringing his fellow English team-mate down 25-yards out from goal.
The referee brandishes a yellow card to Henderson, and Arsenal finally have a chance to test Mignolet.
The free-kick is stood over by both Ozil and Cazorla, with the latter having his effort deflected over the bar and out for a corner.
47: The corner comes of nothing, and Liverpool clear their lines.
48: Liverpool have a set-piece in a dangerous area, with Suarez standing over the delivery..... Sturridge heads the ball over the bar but the referee awards a corner kick as he thinks Arteta deflected off the strike before it went out.
50: Justice is served as Arsenal clear the ball out to safety. The Arsenal players still look frustrated as they try and reduce the deficit.
52: GOAL! As if it couldn't get any worse... Liverpool have scored again on the counter attack. Sterling gets his second of the day from a rebounded shot, after his first effort is parried back to him by Szczesny, before he slots the strike into the bottom corner of the net. That makes it 5-0.
|Unbelievable: Sterling celebrates his second goal of the game from a rebounded effort.|
It's probably too late, but they can at least try and make the scoreline more respectable than it is now at current viewing. 5-0 away from home. Doesn't look good for so called "title contenders".
60: Arsenal SUBS:
Mesut Ozil OFF
Nacho Monreal OFF
Olivier Giroud OFF
Kieran Gibbs ON
Tomas Rosicky ON
Lukas Podolski ON
Risky for Wenger, making all of his 3 substitutions allowed with 30 minutes left to play as he looks to rest some of his key players ahead of the match against Manchester United on Wednesday - you could say that it is a desperate attempt to get back into the match.
62: CLOSE! Suarez takes an ambitious free-kick effort from 25 yards out which curls and swerves towards the top corner of the net, only to be denied by a fantastic stop from Szczesny who makes a diving save.
64: Liverpool SUB:
Daniel Sturridge OFF
Joe Allen ON
Brendan Rodgers is also thinking about his side's match against Fulham on Wednesday, 5-0 up and there is no point risking Sturridge for the final 25 minutes or so.
66: Close! Coutinho does well to feed Henderson near the flank with a great through ball across into the English midfielder, who comes narrowly close to making it 6-0 to Liverpool. Goal-kick to come.
67: PENALTY! Arsenal have a chance to give themselves brief respite and make it 5-1, after Oxlade- Chamberlain was brought down inside the box thanks to a poor mistimed challenge from Steven Gerrard.
The referee had no choice there but to award a penalty.
68: Mikel Arteta steps up to take the spot-kick.... slots it down the middle, sending Mignolet the wrong way!
Arsenal score their first of the day from the penalty spot, thanks to Spanish defensive midfielder Arteta. Supporters cheer around the ground from both sets of teams, 5-1.
|Consolation: Arteta sends Mignolet the wrong way, slotting the ball past him to make it 5-1.|
71: Arsenal have a free-kick from 22 yards out after Wilshere was fouled by Flanagan, with Arteta standing over the set-piece. He hits the ball powerfully low towards the bottom corner, with Mignolet doing well to use a strong hand to palm the strike away.
75: Liverpool SUB:
Steven Gerrard OFF
Jordon Ibe ON
Young 18-year-old youth English prospect Ibe replaces Gerrard, who gets a warm round of applause from the Liverpool faithful.
80: Just ten minutes plus stoppage time to play at Anfield, with Arsenal having an inswinging free-kick opportunity to come. Delivery is drilled well into the box for Mertesacker, who is held back by the Liverpool defenders before sprawling to the ground as The Reds clear.
85: Luis Suarez is given a warm round of applause as he jogs off the pitch, being replaced by Spanish International forward Iago Aspas.
86: Close! Sterling almost gets his hat-trick after bombing past Gibbs on the flank before running straight through on goal, striking towards Szczesny who does well to deny the English forward with an outstretched leg.
88: Rosicky does well to weave his way past two Liverpool defenders before finding Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flank, whose shot is deflected wide and out for a corner.
89: The corner comes of nothing, and Liverpool clear.
90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time, with Liverpool happy to keep ball possession and soak up the atmosphere from the home fans, who are chanting "You'll Never Walk Alone." Arsenal supporters are completely distraught and the players don't look too happy either.
90+3: The referee has blown his whistle to signal the end of the match at Anfield. Liverpool will happily take the three points against a weak Arsenal side who were very slow to get going away from home and ultimately paid the price in the first 20 minutes with poor marking and sloppy defending culminating in 4 goals before half-time.
Their performance improved in the second-half, but you could also argue that Liverpool were so comfortable that they took their foot off the gas and Arsenal got a consolation from the penalty spot thanks to Mikel Arteta.
Liverpool move within 5 points of the league leaders Arsenal after their emphatic win, with The Gunners starting a very tough period of fixtures with a surprising loss away to The Reds, who ripped them apart on the counter attack and were unlucky not to score more goals than they did.
The negatives from this match from an Arsenal perspective:
- They have been thrashed away from home against a side they would have expected to get a result against
- It will not get any easier until the end of the season, with tough matches coming thick and fast
- This is virtually the end of their title challenge, unless they are somehow able to pick themselves up - and quickly.
- There is a good chance that the majority of their first-team players will become tired, and they will be forced to play their second string in certain games
- They needed to sign a few players in January, this proves just that.
Despite their loss, Arsenal can still take a few positives out of the match:
- They scored a goal - albeit a consolation goal
- Rosicky looked sharp when he came on
- Szczesny was good despite conceding 5 goals, most of which were out of his immediate control
- Oxlade-Chamberlain and Koscielny were solid in their positions
- They can redeem themselves against Liverpool next week in their FA Cup tie
I should (unless technical faults deny me) be able to have another LIVE Commentary for you all to enjoy tomorrow:
Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton
Manchester United vs Fulham
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