Match Report: Arsene Wenger tells 'nervous' Arsenal to match style and security

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2

The Emirates Stadium

It is the curse of this Arsenal team that their beguiling attack is often called upon to atone for the mistakes of their catastrophic defence. They do make life hard for themselves, but what a joy it can be to watch.

Watch the highlights from this game right here

Yes, at times they were hopeless in defence and Per Mertesacker might wish to reflect on his woeful performance at length. But having given so much away, the home team wiped out the two-goal lead given to them by Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson in a thrilling two-goal burst after the hour that brought them back into the game.

This is the latest great Arsenal conundrum, a burgeoning attack led by the impressive Olivier Giroud and abetted by Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla, trying desperately to outscore the mistakes they make at the back. Pulling the strings was Jack Wilshere who is coming into form magnificently just as Roy Hodgson needs him the most for those World Cup qualifiers in March.

There is a new problem for Arsène Wenger, however, who lost Kieran Gibbs to a thigh injury in the first half which necessitated the nerve-shredding prospect for Arsenal fans of an entrance from Andre Santos. Gibbs will be out for the next "two to three weeks" according to Wenger who conceded that he would have a look at his options to make a signing "overnight".

He blamed his defenders being "nervous" for the aberrations that led to the two Liverpool goals. "Honestly, we could have lost the game, we could have won it by three or four goals difference and that shows we created many, many chances going forward," Wenger said. "But we were nervous defensively and the two goals we conceded showed that. Overall we have shown tremendous spirit."

As for Liverpool, they were excellent on the counter-attack where they took their chances well and they might even have nicked it at the end. It was a much-needed result after the disastrous performance against Oldham in the FA Cup on Sunday and the relief was obvious to see in Brendan Rodgers after the game, even if they had lost a two-goal lead.

The league table changes little for both these sides. Arsenal are still in sixth place four points behind Tottenham in fourth. Both they and Liverpool have lost ground on Everton, the only winners in that group behind the two leading clubs. After the FA Cup elimination, Rodgers said his "overriding emotion" was of "real pride".

He said: "We played Arsenal earlier in the season and they outplayed us. I always felt this would be a benchmark of how we have been progressing. It's a game we should have won. But we showed great resilience and quality. I'm very proud of the team.

"Sunday was more my fault than theirs [the young players]. I'm a great believer in young players, I look at the depth of our squad and put a lot of trust in them. The problem is when I put them in and I don't have some of our big players, it's difficult. But I never had any second thoughts that I would get a reaction."

Just before kick-off, the Liverpool fans protested against the £62 away-end ticket prices with a banner that asked whether football was still "a working-class sport". Certainly not for the 22 millionaires on the pitch, was the simple answer. It would be fatuous to say that this game was worth the price of a ticket that expensive but in so many respects it did not disappoint.

First blood to Liverpool, but what a comic sequence of misjudgements, slips and pratfalls by the Arsenal defence to create it for them. First Bacary Sagna slipped over on the right to allow Glen Johnson, playing at left-back, to cross where Thomas Vermaelen had an ideal chance to cut the ball out but missed it.

At that point Arsenal were in danger but Wojciech Szczesny saved well from Daniel Sturridge. To compound the pressure, Wilshere failed to get any distance on an ill-advised flick in his own area. Jordan Henderson pushed the ball left to Suarez and his shot went in off Mertesacker.

Then came the Arsenal pressure. Pepe Reina saved well from Giroud and Walcott. At the other end Mertesacker gave the ball to Henderson and Vermaelen had to block Luis Suarez from the resultant pass. There was also a goal-line clearance from Lukas Podolski when Szczesny came for a Steven Gerrard corner and failed to get it, giving Daniel Agger a header with a sight of goal.

The second goal was another bad moment for Mertesacker who allowed Henderson past him too easily. Santos intervened and it got little better. When finally Aaron Ramsey made a tackle, the ball ricocheted back off Santos and fell nicely for Henderson to prod into the goal.

That was on the hour, within five minutes Giroud had scored Arsenal's first, a firm downward header from Wilshere's free. Sagna and Cazorla combined to make the space and then Giroud set the ball beautifully for Walcott to score. Liverpool came back into the game towards the end, but Giroud's failure to score from Lukas Podolski's cross was the best chance of all to win it.

Man of the match Wilshere. 

Match rating 8/10.

Referee K Friend (Leicestershire).

Attendance 60,089.

Liverpool sign midfielder Coutinho

Liverpool have completed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho from Internazionale on a long-term contract, the club has announced. The transfer fee was undisclosed, but was thought to be around £8.5m.

“It’s a very important step in my career and I’m expecting to come here and play good football to give my contribution on the pitch,” Coutinho said on Liverpool’s website.

Liam Brady is to leave his role at Arsenal’s youth academy in May 2014.

The 56-year-old former Republic of Ireland midfielder took over as Arsenal’s head of youth development and academy director in July 1996.

The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, said: “Liam has a deep understanding of what it takes to discover and develop a talented youngster into someone who can perform at the highest level.

“It will be difficult to find a worthy successor but we will be looking for someone who can build on what Liam and his team have created.”

peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all