A two all draw at the end of a game when we were often made to look very poor by a superb footballing side. Make no mistake Arsenal played some superb football in this game and it really showed the gulf in standards between us and Champions. However, similar in the way we didn't take our chances earlier in the season against Newcastle nor did Arsenal and the same 2-2 scoreline came.
The Reds won the toss and attacked the Anfield Road in the first half. The game started and continued to be played at a very fast pace throughout. Early on the Reds started quite well and Owen saw an early shot blocked.
The Reds were attacking on eight minutes play when Arsenal cleared the ball. As Hyypia tried to force the ball back in he was dispossessed by Silva who fed the ball up to Bergkamp. Bergkamp played a superbly weighted ball around the despairing dive from Henchoz and on to Henry who motored in on goal. Dudek did superbly well to save the ball but of all the places it could go it went into the middle of the box. Pires came running up, unchallenged to slot the ball in to the empty net before Dudek cold get back across.
The goal really turned the decent Red start in to one way traffic in the opposite direction. The chances started coming for Henry in particular. The striker was on fire in this game and looked a huge danger every time he got the ball. Cutting in from the left side was especially dangerous and on more than one occasion he went close. At one point he cut in from the left and saw Dudek stop his shot from flying into the net. The Anfield crowd had gone very quiet by now as the opposition dominated every first second and third ball.
Arsenal then got the ball in the back of the net through Viera at a corner but the referee rightly saw Viera push Hyypia out of the way as the ball was in flight. That said, a two goal lead would not have been undeserved in fairness.
The Reds did have their chances in the half though and the two best ones fell to Michael Owen. The first one saw him cut inside Campbell. His eventual effort though was easily saved and the follow up shot from Gerrard was easily caught by Seaman. Owen's other chance, later in the half came when Diouf played him through on goal. As he broke in to the area his lame shot looked more like a back pass to the keeper than anything else.
Arsenal though continued to have chances throughout the half. Their play was slick and fast. Every player seemed to be able to generate that extra few seconds on the ball before passing to a player who had run into space. Henry had torn the back out of Carragher and Henchoz at one point within twenty yards.
Dudek turned a Henry shot behind for a corner just before the half hour when Henry looked to surprise the Pole. From the resultant corner Cygan headed goalwards but saw it cleared by Cheyrou. Two minutes later and Henry raced through again. This time he rounded Dudek and from a tight angle went for goal but saw the ball go in to the side netting rather than the goal as Henchoz slid back.
The Reds were all out first for the second half. Arsenal arrived and full credit must go to David Seaman who acknowledged the applause from the Kop as is tradition. Seaman, sadly is one of a dying breed who appreciate the Liverpool gesture.
The second half started far better for the Reds as they looked to get in about Arsenal far more and it only took seven minutes for them to get back on equal terms. Owen tried to work a move in the area but as the ball squirmed free Heskey picked up the ball, shielded it and passed the ball to Riise who thundered in a superb shot to the bottom corner. He ripped off his short and waved it frantically before getting mobbed by his team mates in front of the Kop.
The goal seemed to stun Arsenal a bit and gave the Reds some confidence to up their pace and get amongst them. Shortly after the equaliser though Arsenal had a wonderful chance to score but Henry saw his well taken free kick superbly saved by Dudek.
Arsenal retook the lead though on sixty three minutes and were grateful to a bit of luck for it. Denis Bergkamp hit a shot at goal which Dudek would have had covered. That is until it spun off Henchoz's calf. Dudek tried to re-position his dive but his hand on the ball wasn't quite enough to stop the ball going in to the net.
Arsenal took great heart from the goal and continued to move forward now to try and grab a two goal lead. The Reds went backwards a little and looked vacant of any ideas. Smicer replaced Cheyrou but failed as much as Cheyrou to produce anything of note. At the Anfield Road end Dudek was called up on on a couple of occasion to make superb saves from Henry and Gilberto. That goal never came though, but the Reds never really looked like creating a chance to draw level for a second time.
The Reds replaced a tired Murphy with Diao and after some chanting from the Kop Baros came on to replace Diouf. The Reds still weren't creating much and much of the time looked like a side who forgot they were losing. A fair number of Reds decided they'd had enough or wanted to miss the traffic and missed the final goal of the game. That goal came in the final minute after Baros won a hotly disputed corner. That corner was floated in and cleared to the edge of the box. Gerrard then played Diao in on the right side and his cross was met eight yards out by Heskey. The header powered its way past a static Seaman to send those fans left wild.
The Reds even created a couple of chances in stoppage time but poor crossing let them down on both occasions. The last meaningful event of the game came when Thierry Henry clattered into Sami Hyypia. The referee outrageously played on as Hyypia went down, later to require stitches. Henry distanced himself straight away and at the full time whistle ignored every player and official to run away down the tunnel.
Overall this was a lucky draw. The Reds could easily have rolled over and gone backwards. The first half could easily have been three or four nil although the Reds did have a couple of chances. They stuck at it though and got a little luck near the end with the corner that led to the goal.
MotM : Jerzy Dudek - kept us right in the game throughout the match. Considering his time out he's come back strong and did the Reds proud.