It was tense and Liverpool had the chance to win but they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Arsenal in a performance that saw some impress and others struggle.
Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
Premier League (18), Anfield
December 23, 2023
Goals: Gabriel 4′, Salah 29′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
A rare show of indecision left him in no man’s land when Arsenal opened the scoring, had to either go for it or stay on his line – he did neither.
Was otherwise clean with his hands and quick with his deliveries.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
The long ball was on throughout the night, with space to exploit, and Mo Salah was often the benefactor of Alexander-Arnold’s precision, as he was for the equaliser.
Heavily involved, but the question remains how he did not finish off his chance in the box when it was a five-on-one in the Reds’ favour – can still hear the sound of it hitting the crossbar.
A huge chance gone begging.
Ibrahima Konate – 9 (Man of the Match)
Was forced a step behind Gabriel in the lead up to their goal but responded well thereafter, providing a commanding presence and bullying Arsenal off the ball seemingly with ease.
Crucial blocks and always in the right place, Konate was colossal and ended the match with nine recoveries and seven duels won of his 11 contested.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
A calm and composed performance, as has been the case throughout the season so far, and he needed those qualities after an early enforced change in the backline.
Extra points for asking what the ref had been drinking after awarding a foul against him!
Kostas Tsimikas – 6
Had 20 touches and was tidy with the ball, finally looking at home with a consistent run in the side. But the series of unfortunate injuries continued with the left-back.
A collision with Bukayo Saka on the touchline saw him take down Jurgen Klopp in the process, and that was his night done after 35 minutes with what appeared to be an injury to his collar bone.
Another left-back down.
Wataru Endo – 8
A sixth consecutive start for Wataru Endo, the longest current streak of any Red, he picked up another yellow card to leave him one away from a suspension in what was another solid showing.
Quick with his feet and in his decision to press Arsenal, the latter created brilliant openings early in the second 45. He’s really found his feet, a shame he’ll be missing next month due to the Asian Cup.
Dominik Szoboszlai – 6
Industrial would be the best word for the performance, he made sure to let the opposition know he was there and drove forward with the ball in a fashion we’re now getting used to.
Just frustratingly sloppy at the most inopportune times it felt, especially when starting to become fatigued late on – not surprising with 1,754 minutes played so far.
Curtis Jones – 7
Earned his place in the side with a superb midweek showing and while this performance did not warrant the same kind of spotlight, he was defensively sound with five duels won of the six he contested.
After 90 minutes only a few days previous, it was not surprising to see his number held up as part of the triple change with 20 minutes remaining.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Learning from an early snatched chance, the Egyptian King made no mistake when one-on-one with Oleksandr Zinchenko, turning back the clock for a glorious bullet finish.
The Arsenal man was the weak link, especially when he left the space venturing into midfield, and Salah was quick to pounce and carve out opportunities – though the final ball wasn’t always on the money.
Was Liverpool’s key creator and a constant thorn in Arsenal‘s side, even when shifted to the central forward role.
Luis Diaz – 5
The winger has yet to return to his fearless self and there was some frustration, even from Klopp, with balls given away too easily in possession plus slow reactions to shield the ball.
He has not scored or assisted in his last five outings and the lack of confidence showed, you hope he finds that spark again soon.
Left the field after a painful knock to his knee, hopefully that is all it is.
Cody Gakpo – 5
Chosen ahead of Darwin Nunez to lead the line, the Dutchman had the fewest touches of any player in the first half (12) as he struggled to have an influence.
Provided more of a presence to hold the ball up as the game went on but the match was largely passing him by and his withdrawal was a matter of when, not if.
Joe Gomez (on for Tsimikas, 35′) – 7 – A surprise early entry at left-back showed with a shaky start. Should’ve taken a shot at goal in the first half and learned from it early in the second. He’s scoring this season, hold me to it.
Darwin Nunez (on for Diaz, 68′) – 6 – Taking over on the left wing, he had some moments but was on the periphery for much of his cameo.
Harvey Elliott (on for Gakpo, 68′) – 7 – Took his place on the right wing, bright and energetic and clipped the post.
Ryan Gravenberch (on for Jones, 68′) – 4 – Didn’t get up to speed with the match in all honesty, lost possession with seemingly every touch.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Quansah, Bradley, McConnell, Clark
Jurgen Klopp – 8
There was no surprise with Klopp’s team selection, and his hand was forced early with the injury to Tsimikas – which is the last thing he needed.
He could have made the triple change earlier as neither Gakpo nor Diaz were having a lot of influence up top.
Overall, a draw is not the worst result for Liverpool but the three points were there for them to take when momentum was on their side – another lesson in making opportunities count.
It’s not enough for top spot at Christmas, but we’re second with 19 games still to play. Up the Reds.