Arsenal come from behind to beat champions
Goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson seal 2-1 victory over Liverpool to send Gunners off to Wembley in buoyant mood
15 July, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
ARSENAL 2 (Lacazette 32, Nelson 44)
LIVERPOOL 1 (Mane 20)
ARSENAL warmed up for Wembley by beating Premier League champions Liverpool tonight (Wednesday) at the Emirates Stadium.
A comedy of errors helped the Gunners come from behind to win 2-1 – boosting their chances of playing European football next season.
Boss Mikel Arteta said the victory “was good medicine” ahead of his side’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Saturday.
He added: “In terms of energy and happiness in the dressing room, and to put our previous defeat behind us before a semi-final, this is a big win.
“To beat Liverpool you have to take your chances, you have to defend in many moments, and you need a bit of luck – and tonight we had all of that.
“I was worried about how we would react when we went 1-0 down, but we were able to believe again and we got our reward.”
Arsenal almost made the worst possible start when Emiliano Martinez took too long over a clearance. The keeper’s kick was charged down by Roberto Firmino, but cannoned onto the post.
The reprieve didn’t last long as just before the first-half drinks break Liverpool hit the opener. Firmino played in Andrew Robertson on the overlap, who flashed the ball across goal where Sadio Mane was waiting to pounce from close range.
Then came a collector’s item of a gift.
Under pressure on the edge of his own box, Virgil van Dijk passed the ball straight to Alexandre Lacazette, who couldn’t believe his luck as he danced around the stranded Alisson and slotted home the equaliser.
If playing in an empty stadium didn’t already create a behind-closed-doors-friendly feel, a half of football riddled with howlers certainly helped remind fans watching at home how little rested on this match.
On the stroke of half-time Alisson telegraphed a pass to Robertson, and Lacazette strode in to steal. The French forward put in an early cross to Reiss Nelson, who swept the ball into the bottom corner to score his first Premier League goal.
“You dream as a little boy of scoring against the big boys,” beamed Nelson after the game. “I’m happy with the results and with my goal. When I get home I’ll celebrate with my family.”
All the calamitous defending overshadowed a horror tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold minutes into the second-half. The right-back went in high and late on Bukayo Saka, but, incredibly, only got a yellow card.
The visitors thought they should have had a penalty just after the hour mark when Takumi Minamino was held back in the six-yard box, but referee Paul Tierney waved for play to continue.
Jurgen Klopp’s side continued to pile on the pressure with Martinez having to react quickly to tip over Mo Salah’s delicate shot from close range.
The Gunners could have wrapped it up with five to play but substitute Joe Willock sliced a golden opportunity well wide.
It looked like a missed chance that would be punished in injury-time, but Martinez somehow managed to claw away Alexander-Arnold’s deflected effort to seal the win.
Arsenal: Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Soares (Maitland-Niles, 76), Torreira (Ceballos, 57), Xhaka, Tierney, Pepe, Lacazette (Willock, 58), Saka (Kolasinac, 85), Nelson (Aubameyang, 58)
Substitutes not used: Macey, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum (Shaqiri, 83), Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita, 61), Salah (Origi, 83), Firmino (Minamino, 61), Mane
Substitutes not used: Adrian, Lovren, Jones, Elliott, Williams