Date: 22nd December 2014 at 1:01am
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Martin Skrtel rescued a late draw for Liverpool after a pulsating match against Arsenal at Anfield.

The Reds took the lead on 45 minutes through Philippe Coutinho, only to be pegged back a minute later through a header from Mathieu Debuchy.

Olivier Giroud put the Gunners 2-1 up midway through the second half, before Skrtel headed Liverpool’s equaliser in the 97th minute, after Fabio Borini had been sent off for two yellow cards.

The performance will have left Brendan Rodgers with plenty of positives to take, as the Reds dominated the game and were unfortunate not to come away with all three points.

Rodgers kept faith with the 3-4-3 formation that had been deployed in the Reds last two matches, and Arsenal struggled to get to grips with it for the first 45 minutes.

Liverpool dominated possession with some of the slick passing that had typified their run last season.

Chances fell to Adam Lallana, and Lazar Markovic on two occasions in a first half, before Coutinho fired the opener.

Lallana fired over the bar from the edge of the box having collected the ball from Markovic, and the Serb could have fired his first Premier League goal on two occasions.

First he was denied by a decent stop from Wojciech Szczesny having burst through on goal, and he then fired over from the edge of the box when well placed following some good work from Raheem Sterling.

The Reds got their deserved opener on the stroke of half time, when Jordan Henderson collected a misplaced pass from Olivier Giroud on the right hand side. Henderson fed Coutinho, and the Brazilian shifted the ball to his right hand side before hitting the ball across Szczesny and in off the post.

The lead did not last long however, with a set piece once again proving costly. Alexis Sanchez’ delivery was headed clear, before Mathieu Flamini headed the ball back into the box. Debuchy got above Martin Skrtel at the back post to stun Anfield.

To the Reds credit, the goal did little to deflate them as they set about the second half in the same manner. Steven Gerrard headed narrowly over from Raheem Sterling’s cross, whilst Philippe Coutinho scuffed his shot from the edge of the box when well placed.

But Liverpool were hit with a sucker punch on the counter attack, when Olivier Giroud fired through the legs of Brad Jones from close range, after a neat interchange between himself and Santi Cazorla.

Brendan Rodgers introduced Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert as the Reds went in search of a much deserved equaliser.

Lucas Leiva came close to finding it when he fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box, whilst Steven Gerrard tested Szczesny with a long range strike.

Borini almost headed his first Premier League goal of the season, only to be denied by a decent tip over from the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Perhaps that contributed to what unfolded next, when the Italian striker was booked for throwing the ball away in frustration.

That was compounded when he was shown a second yellow minutes later for a high challenge on Cazorla.

Nine minutes of additional time had been added for a head injury to Martin Skrtel earlier in the half, and it was the Slovakian defender who made it count when he rose to power Adam Lallana’s delivery from a corner into the bottom corner on 97 minutes.

In what was a frantic finish, Brad Jones was called into action to deny Cazorla from the edge of the box, whilst Skrtel was on hand to make a crucial clearance from the follow up.

In a game that the Reds dominated from start to finish, plenty of positives can be taken given the way in which they managed 27 attempts on goal and had 65% of the possession. On another day it could have quite easily been three points, but defensive lapses proved costly once more.

With a kinder run of fixtures to come over the festive period, the Reds will be hoping they can take some sort of momentum from the manner in which they rescued a point in the hope of turning their season around.


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