The Reds face Arsene Wenger’s side at Anfield on Saturday, having not beaten them at home in the Premier League since 2007. Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) looks back at Liverpool’s recent struggles against the Gunners, and at their chances of ending the jinx this weekend.
On 31st March 2007, Liverpool enjoyed a fabulous 4-1 victory over Arsenal, with Peter Crouch scoring an unforgettable hat-trick. Although it seems hard to believe, the Reds have failed to beat the Gunners at home since.
The following season the two sides had to settle for a share of the spoils. Steven Gerrard’s thunderous free-kick gave the hosts the lead, but a late equaliser from Cesc Fabregas snatched a point.
In 2008/09, Liverpool knew they had to beat the north London side to realistically keep their title hopes alive. In what was a Premier League classic, an Andrei Arshavin-inspired Arsenal drew a thrilling game 4-4.
The Russian scored all four of his side’s goals, while Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun both scored twice for Rafa Benitez’s team. Although the Israeli’s second goal grabbed a late point, the result felt like a defeat because of the ground lost to eventual champions Manchester United.
In late 2009, Dirk Kuyt’s opener looked to have put the Reds well on their way to a much-needed three points, only for things to fall apart for Benitez’s men after half-time. Glen Johnson’s own goal levelled the scores, before Arshavin again proved to be the key man with a terrific winner.
The two sides faced each other on the opening weekend of the 2010/11 campaign, in what was Roy Hodgson’s first league game in charge of Liverpool. Joe Cole’s avoidable red card just before the break was disastrous, but David N’Gog scored a fine effort early in the second half.
Once again it was Arsenal– also down to 10 men after Laurent Koscielny’s dismissal- who had the last laugh. Pepe Reina’s stoppage time own goal gifted them a draw.
The 2-1 defeat in March 2012 was a really tough one to take. Kenny Dalglish‘s side were easily the better side throughout, but a late goal cost them dearly again. Koscielny’s own goal, after Kuyt had already missed a penalty, put Liverpool ahead, but Robin van Persie equalised later in the first half with a header.
With the Reds pushing for a win, a rare Arsenal attack saw Van Persie finish superbly in the dying minutes. It was a massive blow to Liverpool top four chances.
The most recent Anfield meeting between the two sides, in September 2012, was easily Liverpool’s worst performance against Arsenal since 2007. From start to finish they were outplayed, and simply never got going. Goals from Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla sealed the deal, on a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
On Saturday they go head-to-head once more, in a huge game for both clubs. Arsenal have genuine title aspirations, while Liverpool know a victory would both enhance their chances of finishing fourth and get them to within five points of Wenger’s men.
With Arsenal missing the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini in midfield, and possibly Jack Wilshere too, the Reds have a decent chance of victory. They have to take the game to them like they did to Everton in the emphatic 4-0 Merseyside derby win last week.
The battle between Liverpool’s outstanding attack of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, and Arsenal‘s resilient centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Koscielny may well hold the key to the entire game. Whoever comes out on top in that tussle is vital.
Whatever the outcome of the game, it promises to be a fantastic occasion. Anfield has become a fortress again this season, and three points on Saturday, ending the seven-year jinx in the process, would represent Liverpool’s most important win of the season to date.