Mellor's dream hit deepens Arsenal nightmare

Liverpool 2 - Arsenal 1

With one swing of the right boot, Neil Mellor bludgeoned a 25-yard volley past Jens Lehmann to secure a memorable win for Liverpool at Anfield yesterday, their first over Arsenal in nine attempts since the 2001 FA Cup final. The timing of the 22-year-old's first Premiership goal, 10 seconds from the end of stoppage time, meant there was no opportunity for the champions to respond.

Mellor, a burly, home-grown striker whose father Ian played for Manchester City, might have joined Sheffield United a fortnight ago. Injuries to Milan Baros and Djibril Cissé ensured the deal was stillborn, a seemingly inconsequential fact that Arsenal now have cause to rue as they trail Chelsea by five points.

"The ball's just dropped and I've just hit it in front of the Kop," Mellor said in time-honoured fashion. His captain, Steven Gerrard, neatly encapsulated a moment his young colleague may struggle to better in his entire career. "Neil's been dreaming of that for years," he said, "and now it has come true."

The only dreams coming true for Arsenal right now are bad ones. Two defeats in 55 matches may not sound like a crisis, but six points from 18 can be regarded as a modest return indeed. In a game of stunning goals, they negated Xabi Alonso's opener through Patrick Vieira, but having otherwise failed to trouble Chris Kirkland, they could hardly argue with Mellor's winner.

Arsène Wenger sought to do precisely that, suggesting that the chance came about more through his side's sloppy defending than any creativity on Liverpool's part. "It's difficult to swallow when a goal starts with a simple kick by their goalkeeper and the ball ends up in your net," the Arsenal manager said.

What has happened to the aura of invincibility that Arsenal presented before Manchester United ended their unbeaten run at 49 matches last month? Wenger still felt there was "not a lot wrong", but added: "We looked as if we were suffering from fatigue, and Liverpool were sharper than us, especially in the first half. We gave a lot playing with nine men [at Eindhoven] in midweek."

Their problems did not end with the defeat. Vieira's booking, for a foul on Alonso, means that he will be suspended for the summit meeting with Chelsea at Highbury on 12 December. Arsenal's loss of momentum arguably began with the loss of the defensive midfielders, Gilberto Silva and Edu. Now they will also be deprived of their driving force.

On this occasion, however, Vieira met his match. Gerrard, foraging behind the lone spearhead, Mellor, was dynamism personified, swerving past opponents, unleashing shots and uniting with Alonso and Dietmar Hamann to see that Arsenal never established ascendancy, even at the height of their second-half rally.

Playing his first home match since early September, Gerrard was denied a penalty after three minutes when Kolo Touré brought him down. He was inevitably behind the first goal following a move that started when Steve Finnan's long diagonal pass was headed by Harry Kewell to Gerrard, whose slide rule pass into the stride of Alonso was followed by a drive from 18 yards that tore beyond Lehmann.

Arsenal drew level soon after the break with their first shot on target. A flurry of short, first-time passes saw the ball worked from Lauren to Vieira to Thierry Henry and back to Vieira, whose nonchalant finish seemed to announce the resumption of business as usual.

A respectable point looked within their grasp as Kirkland pumped the ball forward. Kewell, who otherwise had a wretched game, again played a part by jumping with Sol Campbell. The ball broke to Mellor, who still had the energy, after so much lung-bursting endeavour, to force his way into Anfield folklore.

Goals: Alonso (41) 1-0; Vieira (57) 1-1; Mellor (90) 2-1.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Kirkland; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise; Xabi Alonso, Hamann; Sinama-Pongolle (Nunez, 70), Gerrard, Kewell; Mellor. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Diao, Biscan, Warnock.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Touré, Campbell, Cole; Ljungberg, Vieira, Fabregas, Pires; Reyes (Van Persie, 68), Henry. Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Flamini, Senderos, Hoyte.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Booked: Arsenal: Vieira, Henry.

Man of the match: Gerrard.

Attendance: 43,730.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments