Arsenal, Liverpool share spoils in goal fest, stalemate between Everton and Chelsea

Arsenal, Liverpool, Coutinho, Firmino, Salah, Ozil, Sanchez, Grenit Xhaka, Arsene Wenger
Arsenal, Liverpool share spoil in goal-fest, stalemate between Everton and Chelsea

Arsenal scored three times in five minutes to wipe out Liverpool’s two-goal lead before capitulating again to draw a wild English Premier League encounter 3-3 on Friday.

Such were the depths of Arsenal’s defensive ineptitude that the players were booed off at halftime at Emirates Stadium. And that was only when Arsene Wenger’s side was trailing 1-0 following Philippe Coutinho’s header. Arsenal’s troubles deepened seven minutes into the second half when Mohamed Salah was gifted even more space to double Liverpool’s lead.

But inside 388 seconds, Arsenal was a force transformed. Liverpool paid the price.
Showing the desire and assertiveness completely missing in the first half, Arsenal pulled level through Alexis Sanchez and Granit Xhaka by the 56th minute.

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Much to the fury of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, Mesut Ozil was able to dink the ball over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to send Arsenal into a 58th-minute lead that seemed improbable minutes earlier.

But on a night when defensive and goalkeeping calamities showed why Arsenal and Liverpool are already out of the title race at the midway point, the hosts could not hold on to the lead. Roberto Firmino had the last say, putting the ball under Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 71st.

The draw kept Liverpool in the fourth and final Champions League qualification place, 17 points behind City. Arsenal is a further point behind Liverpool in fifth but looked set to be far worse off heading into the packed festive program based on the first-half performance.

Elsewhere, Chelsea wasted a chance to move level on points with second placed Manchester United as Everton maintained their improvement under Sam Allardyce in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.

It marked a sixth game unbeaten for Everton under former England boss Allardyce, but Chelsea’s failure to convert possession into goals will not have pleased Blues manager Antonio Conte.

Conte has already conceded his inconsistent team won’t be able to defend the Premier League title and this was another frustrating afternoon for the Italian as the Blues squandered their territorial dominance.

Chelsea remain third and are 13 points behind leaders Manchester City, who play Bournemouth later on Saturday. Initially, it looked like being an encouraging day for Conte as Chelsea quickly established a pattern of complete dominance.

It took an impressive double goal-line clearance by veteran defender Phil Jagielka to deny the visitors what would have been a deserved lead. The Everton captain read the situation perfectly as Marcos Alonso’s cross flew through the home area after 10 minutes, reacting sharply to block Tiemoue Bakayoko’s effort.

Jagielka then responded even more impressively as Willian looked certain to convert the rebound, the defender positioning himself to keep out the follow-up effort in similar fashion. Yet for all their superiority in those opening stages, Chelsea struggled to carve out many meaningful chances to trouble home keeper Jordan Pickford.

After 20 minutes, Cuco Martina was booked for a blatant foul on Victor Moses on the edge of the Everton area but Willian sent his free-kick sailing well over. And while the passing and movement of Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard was pleasing on the eye and threatening at times, Everton stuck to their defensive duties well.

It was easy to see the impact Allardyce has made since his arrival at Goodison Park although Everton were not helped by the pre-match loss of in-form Wayne Rooney due to illness.

In the absence of the 10-goal forward, Everton’s attacking play was likely to be hindered and so it proved, with Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois a virtual spectator.

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