Saturday 3 December 2016

Liverpool look for change of luck in Gunners' lair

Reds need to overcome a dismal record at the Emirates when they take on Arsenal in tonight’s Premier League showdown

Published 24/08/2015 | 02:30

Arsenal's English striker Theo Walcott scores a goal beating Liverpool's Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina to take the score to 2-2 during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates Stadium, January 30, 2013
Arsenal's English striker Theo Walcott scores a goal beating Liverpool's Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina to take the score to 2-2 during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates Stadium, January 30, 2013
Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini skips past the tackle from Steven Gerrard of Liverpool during the Barclays Premiership match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 14, 2006
Arsenal's French player Abou Diaby celebrates scoring his goal with Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool, February 10, 2010
Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luiz Suarez is brought down by Arsenal's English striker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates Stadium, February 16, 2014
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

There was a time when an away date with Arsenal tended to bring good news for Liverpool.

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They enjoyed their trips to Highbury, going undefeated at the old ground between 1995 and 2000 - a period when Robbie Fowler took great pleasure from exposing faults in the home rearguard. It was also the scene of a match-winning moment from Titi Camara that enhanced his cult hero status.

Since the Londoners upped sticks and moved to their new abode, the Emirates Stadium, it has developed into a fixture that Liverpool fans associate with bad memories.

They've only won once from 12 visits, a 2-0 visit at this stage of the season four years ago, with Kenny Dalglish in the dug-out. In 2008, they also secured a draw that set up a second-leg success in the Champions League.

Otherwise, they've stacked up tales of woe, with Brendan Rodgers experiencing his fair share of misery in the salubrious surroundings.

Ahead of tonight's intriguing showdown, here are some grim Emirates memories that those of a Liverpool persuasion probably wish to forget.

Nov 12, 2006: Premier League

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 0

Liverpool's first visit to the venue was a sign of things to come with a humbling defeat a low point in a poor start to the campaign.

It wasn't just the Emirates that was posing problems for Rafa Benitez's outfit - they were still searching for a first away win when they rolled into town.

It never looked likely as the home side ran riot, with the goals coming from unlikely sources. Mathieu Flamini broke the deadlock before Kolo Toure - yes, Kolo Toure - raced through to collect a defence-splitting Robin van Persie pass and find a way past Pepe Reina. William Gallas added the insurance strike against a Liverpool team which contained the mainstays of their Champions League success from 18 months earlier.

Benitez was coming under pressure, especially with Steven Gerrard deployed on the right and Bolo Zenden favoured in the centre. He admitted the mistake by switching them around in the second half but it was too late.

"If we keep going like we did this afternoon then I think we can win this Premiership," said Toure. He was wrong. Indeed, by the end of the season, Liverpool had improved to take third spot ahead of the Gunners.

Arsenal - Almunia, Eboue, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Silva, Fabregas, Flamini, Van Persie (Adebayor 85), Henry.

Liverpool - Reina, Finnan, Hyypia (Agger 82), Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Zenden, Gonzalez (Pennant 61), Crouch (Bellamy 71), Kuyt.

Feb 10, 2010: Premier League

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 0

Abou Diaby was a terrific player when in full flow. David Ngog, on the other hand, was not. They both had chances to score in this encounter and, crucially, Diaby converted his 72nd-minute opportunity.

This was a rare campaign when he was pretty much in good health throughout - barring a minor setback that marked him absent for Ireland's Thierry Henry-induced heartbreak in Paris - and he managed to score on seven occasions. He didn't deserve the bad luck coming down the tracks.

Benitez was on the slow march to his departure at this juncture and a 300th Premier League success for Arsene Wenger was a major blow to his side's Champions League prospects.

"It was just quality in the final third that made the difference," said Benitez, who had watched another questionable recruit, Ryan Babel, come close to a leveller.

This was a scrappy affair and Arsenal had come into it with the spotlight trained on them following back-to-back defeats against Manchester United and Chelsea.

They gained momentum from this triumph to go on a winning run before capitulating in the final weeks of the campaign and finishing third. That was considerably better than Liverpool, who dropped to seventh and parted company with Benitez.

Arsenal - Almunia; Eboue, Gallas , Vermaelen, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Diaby; Nasri (Rosicky 34), Bendtner (Sagna 81), Arshavin (Walcott 67).

Liverpool - Reina; Carragher (Degen 55), Skrtel, Agger, Insua; Mascherano, Lucas (Babel 78); Kuyt, Gerrard, Rodriguez; Ngog.

Jan 30 2013: Premier League

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2

The Anfield faithful were trying to make up their mind about Brendan Rodgers after a mixed first season in charge and this was a game that showcased the good and the bad.

After losing to Oldham in the FA Cup on the previous weekend, Rodgers needed a performance, and the visitors burst out of the blocks, claiming a two-goal lead courtesy of Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson.

Their mission was helped by some chaotic Arsenal defending; the involvement of early sub Andre Santos contributed to the messiness.

Alas, Rodgers' men were unable to see it out and were picked apart in a frantic spell after the hour mark where Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott scored.

The Antrim man had described his team as 'too soft' in the aftermath of the Oldham debacle, but he found encouragement from this display.

While a seventh-place finish would be the result of their endeavours, the developing partnership of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge that caused plenty of problems on this night hinted at encouragement for the road ahead.

Arsenal - Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Santos 37), Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud.

Liverpool - Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Wisdom, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Sturridge (Enrique 71).

Feb 16, 2014 FA Cup

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1

At the time, Liverpool had a bigger prize in their sights, with an unlikely title charge in full flow. However, when Arsenal went on to lift the trophy by seeing off Hull in the final, Reds fans were entitled to wonder if they'd missed a chance.

They had a genuine sense of injustice after exiting the competition at the Emirates Stadium, with referee Howard Webb dominating the post mortem. He'd already awarded a penalty to the visitors when Suarez was clearly taken out of it by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as he burst into the area.

There would have been no complaints from the Arsenal winger if Webb had pointed to the spot. Indeed, when asked about it afterwards, he simply admitted that he could only worry about decisions that were given against him.

Liverpool were the better side for large periods of a joust with an experimental Arsenal side that got the job done thanks to goals from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podoloski, with debutant Yaya Sanogo playing his part.

Gerrard pulled one back from the spot before Webb's controversial decision and Sturridge wasted three good chances to secure a replay.

Liverpool, who had thrashed Wenger's charges 5-1 at Anfield eight days previously, had the consolation of a league race to get over the disappointment. But they would end the season with nothing.

Arsenal - Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gibbs 76), Arteta, Flamini, Podolski (Cazorla 69); Ozil; Sanogo (Giroud 88).

Liverpool - Jones; Flanagan, Skrtel, Agger, Cissokho (Henderson, 62); Gerrard; Coutinho, Allen; Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez.

April 4, 2015: Premier League

Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1

The pain of this humiliation will be fresh in the mind of Rodgers and the players that remain, although a lot of the discourse around this clash centred on Raheem Sterling's uncertain future.

Afterwards, Rodgers argued that the interests of the youngster would be better served by staying put. Hindsight may suggest otherwise.

With Liverpool weakened by injuries and suspensions, a lack of quality in the squad was exposed. If you believe that ambition drove the English international to move in the summer, then this lesson might have strengthened his conviction. A key moment came early on when Lazar Markovic botched an attempted pass to Sterling when he should have taken a shot.

Mesut Ozil was in fine form and starred in a killer period before the interval where Hector Bellerin and Alexis Sanchez joined him on the scoresheet. Giroud added another at the death, with Jordan Henderson's penalty a consolation and Emre Can sent off. 
Rodgers conceded defeat in the race for the Champions League and opened a debate on his own future. Tonight could shape that ongoing discussion.

Arsenal - Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Gabriel 48), Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey (Flamini 61); Özil (Welbeck 73), Cazorla, Sanchez; Giroud.

Liverpool - Mignolet; Can, Toure, Sakho; Henderson, Allen, Lucas, Moreno; Markovic (Sturridge 46), Sterling, Coutinho.

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