Generation Next is our regular feature on Just Football profiling the best young talents in the world. And here’s another to keep an eye on – Atalanta’s bustling midfielder Franck Kessie… Last summer, when Genoa former coach Gian Piero Gasperini made the move to Atalanta, after seven wonderful years spent in Liguria (interjected by spells […]
This weekend heralds a potentially titanic clash in the Premier League between two sides steeped in history. On Saturday evening, it’s Liverpool vs. Arsenal. The home side sit 5th in the league at the time of writing. Their London guests one place above them, in the much-coveted Champions League places.
Both sides will be desperate to get a win. Jurgen Klopp’s team have recorded just one league win in 2017 (against Tottenham Hotspur). Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger‘s men have had their now traditional wobble. Recent results have taken them out of the title race and virtually out of the Champions League, barring a miracle against Bayern Munich.
Ahead of the game, let’s take a trip down memory lane to look at some unforgettable fixtures between the two sides over recent years. Will this weekend’s game match these classics?
Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (August 2016)
This stunning game heralded the start of the 2016/17 season and more than lived up to its billing. Even before kick off it was expected to be the game of the weekend as two would-be title challengers went head-to-head.
Theo Walcott got things started after half an hour, the winger-come-striker firing into the corner to make up for a missed penalty earlier in the game. Philippe Coutino netted a glorious, arcing free kick right on the whistle to send the sides in level at half time.
In the second half, we saw just how effective Jurgen Klopp‘s high-tempo, “heavy metal” style can be. Liverpool tore out of the blocks and a shocked Arsenal could not cope. First, Adam Lallana finished off a neat team move. The Brazilian Coutinho swept in his second goal and then summer signing Sadio Mane announced himself with a solo goal as he petrified Arsenal’s back-peddling backline. It was 4-1, and it looked like game over. Arsenal did muster a response with goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Chambers, but it was not enough to rescue a point.
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal (February 2014)
This game was a snapshot in time of two teams heading in opposite directions. Arsene Wenger’s men arrived at Anfield top of the table, with the home side lagging behind in 4th. Brendan Rodgers‘ Liverpool team – powered by the potent attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling – would eventually finish a heartbreaking second place, but thrilled many observers along the way.
However, those goalscorers were in the shade early on in this one. Rugged centreback Martin Skrtel scored twice inside the first 10 minutes. Quickfire goals from Sterling and Sturridge then put the home side 4-0 by the break. Sterling added another not long after half time. Mikel Arteta got the most meaningless of consolation goals with a second-half penalty as Arsenal finally tightened up at the back, but it was far too little, too late. The Gunners’ kamikaze defending – in the first half especially – had cost them. They fell from the top of the league and eventually finished 4th.
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal (April 2009)
This was the game that saw Andrey Arshavin truly announce himself on English football. The diminutive Russian playmaker had been signed in the 2009 winter transfer window, and in this game provided that there were few players who could match his ability when he was in the mood.
Incredibly, this game that finished 4 a piece had just one goal in the first half. Arshavin – who would score all four of Arsenal’s goals – put the away side ahead at half time. Ten minutes after the whistle, though, and Liverpool were 2-1 in front thanks to goals from Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun. Luckily for Arsenal, Arshavin was in no mood to lose. He dragged Arsenal back into the lead with two more goals to seal his hattrick.
Liverpool could not afford to lose. Rafa Benitez‘ side were a point behind league leaders Manchester United at the time, and understandably pressed forward in search of more goals. Torres netted an equaliser to make it 3-3 just a few minutes after Arsenal scored their third. But they were not content with a draw, and the Reds continued to attack in search of a vital winner. It left them vulnerable at the back, and an Arsenal counter-attack saw the Gunners net a fourth. Liverpool did scramble in a late equaliser through Benayoun again, but could not get the vital victory they wanted.
Arsenal 4-2 Liverpool (April 2004)
It had been a bad period for Arsenal going into this game (does that sound familiar?). They were knocked out of the FA Cup by old rivals Manchester United and out of the Champions League by nouveau riche Chelsea. They were still unbeaten in the Premier League going into this game, but even that ended up looking precarious. The Gunners went into the break 2-1 down after Sami Hyppia and then Michael Owen netted for Liverpool, in between a classic Thierry Henry goal.
After the break, Robert Pires equalised. Then Henry accelerated through the gears past a terrified Liverpool defence to score a stunning solo goal to put his side in the lead for the first time in the game. He completed a hattrick in the 78th minute, running past a dozing defence to poke in a through ball at the second time of asking.
A come from behind win that epitomised the mental strength that Arsene Wenger can’t stop referencing even to this day, it set Arsenal on their way to becoming the “Invincibles”.
Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (May 2001)
“The Owen Final” as this FA Cup final should be forever known. Arsenal should have had the final (the first at the Milennium Stadium in Cardiff as Wembley underwent redevelopment) wrapped up well before the final minutes. Freddie Ljungberg put Arsenal 1-0 up in the second half, but they should have been ahead earlier. Talisman Thierry Henry had rounded Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld but was denied by the hand of Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz on the line. Neither referee nor linesman spotted it, and a corner was given.
Wenger’s men were entitled to feel hard done by. But still, would have expected to lift the famous trophy as the minutes ticked down. Until, that is, Michael Owen intervened. The England striker saved Gerard Houllier‘s bacon, netting a scrappy equaliser with just seven minutes remaining. That would have been enough for extra time, but Owen wasn’t done. With two minutes left, he pounced. Released by a Patrick Berger pass, Owen outpaced a tiring Lee Dixon and Tony Adams before smashing a shot past David Seaman into the far post – winning the cup for Liverpool in dramatic circumstances.
What are your prediction for this weekend’s Liverpool vs. Arsenal game? Is another classic on the cards? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @JustFootball and Facebook for more football news, features and analysis.