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.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before