Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
Premier League (18), Anfield
December 23, 2023
Goals: Salah 29′; Gabriel 4′
Another worrying injury
Injury to Kostas Tsimikas, when the Greek was barged off the pitch by Bukayo Sako in an intense first half, leaves Liverpool extremely short at full-back.
Liverpool’s bench, who were, quite literally, right at the incident, knew immediately that Tsimikas needed to go off and he walked down the tunnel clutching his shoulder before heading immediately to hospital.
Gomez himself was excellent, but he refused a superb opportunity in the first half, then almost curled one in in the second half…
Instead his goal drought continues – but surely it’s going to end soon!
How wasn’t that a penalty?!
Jurgen Klopp had asked for more from Anfield and certainly got it.
Whether these were regulars or fans who had been kindly given their tickets by supporters who somehow navigated the ticketing system to donate them as the boss had suggested, the noise was big and boisterous, encouraging and demanding.
There was incredulity on the pitch and in the stands, though, as referee Chris Kavanagh, aided by VAR David Coote, waved away a clear handball from Martin Odegaard in the box.
Quite how Coote – who has had several incidents with Klopp along the years – didn’t even send the referee to the monitor to review the handball, is unfathomable.
Yet another farcical decision.
During Sky Sports’ broadcast it was speculated that Odegaard was let off as he appeared to slip and attempt to balance himself with the hand that struck the ball.
But that was seemingly not the case – it was one of the clearest handballs Anfield has seen, and Liverpool were denied an obvious penalty.
Trent into the record books…but with a costly miss
At full-time, Trent Alexander-Arnold immediately put his head in his hands. He knew that his missed chance with 15 minutes to go was what proved costly.
Liverpool broke with Mo Salah, and had a five-on-two situation. Salah played it to Trent, but rather than slot the ball low past the ‘keeper he tried to lift it over and the ball hit the bar.
It was the chance of the game and Liverpool didn’t really create another one thereafter.
The right-back does, however, deserve credit for his assist for Salah’s stunning equaliser, showing his magnificent propensity to switch play with enormous accuracy.
Mo did the rest, but it makes it five goals or assists in Trent’s last nine league appearances, while he also has three assists in two Carabao Cup games and two assists in three in the Europa League in that time, all dating back to October 26.
Not bad for two months’ work.
On a longer-term view, it was Trent’s 57th Premier League assist – a joint-record. The player he’s level with in history is, of course, Robertson.
Konate stands tall in Matip absence
Amid a slew of impressive performers, the best was perhaps Ibrahima Konate – a genuine giant at the back all game, defending the right channel on his own at times and perfect almost throughout with his challenges.
Twice in the first half he simply monstered Gabriel Martinelli off the ball as the Brazilian tried to go around him, while other challenges were simply brilliantly timed to stop the Gunners swarming forward.
Ibou’s passing out was impressive, without being risky, while he also made a really strong block on Oleksandr Zinchenko’s shot with 10 minutes to play.
In the absence of Joel Matip, who has been in form this season, the Frenchman’s return to his best couldn’t have been better timed.
Quick turnaround and ignore that league table for now
There’s no time to dwell on this result as the Christmas fixture list leaves no time for it.
We’re straight back into action on Boxing Day, this time with a trip to Burnley – our first notable away game in a while after three on the bounce at Anfield, plus that dead-rubber in Belgium.
Burnley have been boosted by wins over Sheffield United and Fulham recently; while we’d hope to be seen as a very different class of team, neither of those opponents made life easy for the Reds and the Clarets will be more of the same.
Ultimately, with so much still to play for, top spot shouldn’t really matter much one way or the other on a single day of the year (aside from the last one!), and Klopp’s job is simply to focus minds and freshen bodies across the next two days.
Whatever the outcome ended up at Anfield, these teams – and Man City of course – would be ending up sorting the title between them anyway so its just about winning and winning and winning again for the Reds, with three trophies very much on the line right now.