I can understand why Arsene Wenger wanted to make sure that Arsenal did not have a similar sort of disastrous start that killed the game for us at Anfield last season, and was evident again in the first half at Stoke recently. But it also meant that we handed the initiative to the home side to some extent and did not put much early pressure on Liverpool’s wobbly defence.
The Gunners were inviting too much pressure and with Liverpool having over 70 percent possession in the first quarter of an hour, something had to give. We needed to get our passing game going and get our in form attacking players into the game. Amd I fail to see why Wenger put Debuchy in the centre of our defence and Chambers at right back.
Arsenal were managing to do something that very few teams have this season, make Liverpool look good, while we were going nowhere fast. Unable to pass the ball or win a tackle, this was just like Stoke a couple of weeks ago and the only good thing is that Liverpool had failed to punish us.
For all their dominance, Szczesny had little to do until making a smart save from Markovic after 35 minutes. But there was absolutely nothing for Jones and the Liverpool defenders to worry about at the other end.
It looked even harder after Coutinho finally put the home side ahead just before halftime after we gifted them possession needlessly on the edge of the box. But amazingly we were level before the whistle, with Alexis winning a free kick and Debuchy rising to beat Skrtel at the far post and head the ball past Jones. Anfield was stunned, as was I, but we had to make the most of our lucky break.
The pundits seemed to think it was Liverpool tactics and brilliance that caused the one sided first half, but I think the Gunners were just awful and it did get better after the restart, although that was not difficult. Cazorla had an early burst and shot and we seemed to have switched on a bit.
Then there was a long break five minutes in after Giroud had stood on Skrtel’s head, accidentally I am (fairly) sure. Liverpool came close soon after but it would have been very unfair as Sterling blatantly handled in the build up, and then Giroud went close with a thumping strike from the edge of the box.
The Frenchman did not have to wait long for his goal though, as He finished off a great run and cut back from Cazorla soon afterwards. We had to survive a bit of an onslaught after taking the lead but were just managing to hold on. And it was Rodgers that was forced to change his tactics, going 4-4-2 with Lambert and Borini up front.
Coquelin replaced Giroud with 15 minutes left. Ox had to go off as well and we were starting to be camped in our box when Borini got a second yellow three minutes into the nine of added time. We still sat back though and eventually paid the price, with Skrtel heading Liverpool level from one of their many corners.
Obviously our failure to hold on will hurt but we did not really deserve to draw so it could have been much worse.