Koscielny og 23 – Van Persie 30, 90+3
Two goals from Robin van Persie, including a stunning volley deep in injury time for the second, saw Arsenal come from behind and register their fourth consecutive League win and bring an end to Liverpool’s unbeaten home record this season.
Just as significantly, it means Kenny Dalglish’s side have registered just two wins in their last 10 League games and leaves them 10 points adrift of the race for fourth place and the Champions League.
Yet, they’ll be left kicking themselves as things could have been very much different, they had slightly more possession than the visitors and created more chances but couldn’t turn them into goals despite hitting the upright twice, missing a penalty and squandering several other clear-cut chances.
While the headlines and the man-of-the-match champagne will go to Van Persie it was a victory built on foundations laid by Wojciech Szczesny in the first half. The Pole produce a string of saves including a stunning double to deny Dirk Kuyt from the penalty spot.
It was the Arsenal keeper himself who had been penalised after Suarez collapsed rather too theatrically as the pair challenged for the ball. Replays were less than conclusive and at best the contact was minimal, at worst non-existent. Confusingly, the keeper was not booked.
While Liverpool fans might not agree, justice seemed to be done when Szczesny correctly dived to his right and then displayed incredible athleticism to get across the other side and stop Kuyt’s second shot from the rebound.
It was the sixth penalty Liverpool have missed this season, a statistic that goes someway to explaining why they’re off the pace of the top four.
Arsenal’s joy didn’t last long as Szczesny’s work was undone by a Laurent Koscielny own goal. Spearing fed Downing on the right and with Suarez and Kuyt bearing down on goal, the England man crossed only for Koscielny to slice the ball past Szczesny at the near post.
Liverpool threatened to over-run Arsenal and Suarez went close to doubling their lead when he hit the post after a shot from Downing was saved but totally against the run of play Arsenal were back in the game. Bacary Sagna found himself in acres of space on the right and crossed for Van Persie to head home at the near post.
It was the Dutchman’s 30th for the season and the implications of the fact the player he easily beat to the ball was Jamie Carragher, so irked after the League Cup win by suggestions his Liverpool career was in its twilight, will not be lost on many.
Before the break Liverpool would hit the post with Kuyt again the man unable to find the net.
The second half was marred by an early long stoppage to Mikel Arteta who was knocked unconscious in a freak accidental clash with Jordan Henderson. The players were clearly disrupted by the incident but they soon reverted to the pattern of the first half with Liverpool dominating but failing to take advantage.
So there was a sense of inevitability when, in the third of eight minutes of injury time, Van Persie sprung the offside trap and volleyed past Pepe Reina after a receiving a perfect dinked ball from Alex Song.
Forget the cups, it’s the League where it’s at for Arsenal. At this rate they might still finish top dogs in London. Forget the League, it’s the cups where it’s at for Liverpool, although we all now it’s fourth place they really want.
Liverpool (4-5-1): Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Jose Enrique; Spearing (Carroll 93), Kuyt, Henderson, Adam, Downing (Bellamy 88); Suarez.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta (Diaby 52 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 80)) Song, Rosicky; Walcott, Benayoun (Gervinho 73), van Persie.
Did you know… Van Persie’s winner was the seventh goal scored in the last minute (or injury time) of the last seven League meetings between these two teams
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