I watched last night’s game from my parents house sat alongside another Gooner and, quite unusually for me, a Liverpool fan. He was my teenage Godson and at 15 he could do a fair bit of talking, so I was somewhat apprehensive of another potential defeat at Anfield. He’d already talked up Klopp as the greatest manager of all time and said that Saliba could never get anywhere near Van Dijk’s level, so I was quite desperate for us to put on a show to prove to him that this Arsenal team is made of sterner stuff than he had initially thought.

And after four minutes and a Gabriel headed goal to quieten the home fans down, it felt like we were on our way to doing just that. I half celebrated – such is the case with VAR these days – and there was a pause in proceedings as the lines were remembered to be drawn, but when the goal was given there was a bit of a fist pump with the other Gooner in the room and it felt like we were up and running.

And at times throughout the match we looked good and in control. We moved the ball around well, we looked like one of the best sides in the league, but so did Liverpool. Throughout the game yesterday what we saw was the two teams at the top of the league sparring and when you look at all of the metrics in this match it feels like a draw is the right result for both teams, because for the chances we had, Liverpool had equally good chances.

So whilst we can all be slightly disappointed with Zinchenko for Liverpool’s equaliser, we probably have to admit that it was deserved on the balance of play. But the Trent long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Ukrainian on 28 minutes, his subsequent wave of his leg at the ball as Salah cut inside wasn’t good enough, then the finish by the Egyptian was strong enough that Raya just couldn’t deal with it. 1-1 with a third of the game gone and the lead we’d manage to get was cancelled out within 24 minutes.

It was a shame because it’s yet another year in which we haven’t won at Anfield and we’re now going to be up to 12 year’s without tasting victory on that ground. I will absolutely take a draw because it means we’re top at Christmas and we’ve pretty much made par this week when you look at the results around us, but it does feel as though this was an opportunity to get an away day monkey off our back that we haven’t really been able to remove. It feels like the evolution of this team and a big hurdle that needs to be overcome is an away win at a big ground, a rival ground, a ground that we have struggled with or have a difficult record at, is what is needed now. That chance is gone in Liverpool for this season at least and the next big one isn’t until City at The Etihad in April.

But for right now, for the context of this season, for the fact that I predicted a 2-1 loss on the Same Old Arsenal preview pod and which Amanda did a match review last night, you’d have to say a point is a good result for us and it means we haven’t picked up another ‘L’ this season, with West Ham to come on 28th November. We’re in good shape and we’re top of the league.

And we’ve got some very good footballers in our team. I thought Saliba and Gabriel were once again excellent and the difference Declan Rice makes to this team is very tangible indeed; he once again was imperious in defence and although I had a teenager next to me chuntering on about how he’s “not all that” I think as the game wore on and as he started to see just what Rice gives us in the heart of our midfield, he knew just what a player we had. Rice had the highest pass completion of our side at 86.5%, with the most attempted passes too, he made the most carries, he took the most touches and overall he was once again the beating heart of this team.

Up top I think we didn’t have the best day; we spent more time trying to find Martinelli – most likely because of the expected space that was expected to be given to us due to Alexander-Arnold moving more centrally at times – and he had a few good runs and a couple of good chances, but once again our clinical finishing wasn’t quite there. One of Martinelli’s chances came from an excellent through ball to find Saka but the ball just wouldn’t drop in the right space. But given that Liverpool hit the bar with a good chance as well, I’m not going to sit here this morning and say it was anything like the profligacy of the Villa game. This was two very evenly matched teams who turned this game in to a proper backwards and forwards basketball game at times. Then when you look at the stats, you can see just how even it was, with Liverpool just edging most of the stats, which you’d expect as the home team;

  • We had 49% possession to their 51%
  • Both teams had a 78% passing accuracy (we had 360 accurate passes to their 383)
  • Both teams had two shots on target (they had 13 to our 12 in total)
  • They had 19 crosses to our 16
  • We had 598 touches of the ball to their 599
  • They made 19 clearances whilst we made 22.

In nearly all of the metrics you look at the game was pretty even and so for once, unlike the Villa game, I don’t think either side can really claim to have been dominant. We’ve gone to a ground in which we traditionally get hammered at, on the Saturday evening game before Christmas in which the atmosphere was set up to be a Christmas cracker, then we’ve jousted with one of the best teams in the league. No wonder Arteta seemed happy after that performance and result and whilst Klopp was left to rue – probably rightly to be fair – Odegaard’s handball in the box, that wasn’t the reason Liverpool didn’t take all three points. We limited the best attack in the league to just a couple of attempts on target and I think there needs to be some credit given to the team.

Right, that’ll do me for today I think, as it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve got some Christmas pints to go and have with the family. Well, not straight away, obviously, but by lunchtime I’m gonna need something cold and amber coloured in my pint glass.

Catch you all tomorrow.