LIVERPOOL: A saving header from Martin Skrtel, six minutes into stoppage time caused by his own injury, rescued a point for Liverpool and a 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal.
Until the Danish centre-back pounced it appeared as if Arsenal’s old tradition built on the strategy of contain and counter hd paid off. They had led 2-1l and held a one-man advantage after Liverpool had seen Fabio Borini sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession at the start of stoppage time.
Liverpool and Arsenal had experienced similar seasons with both managers, Brendan Rodgers and Arsene Wenger, needing to resist personal pressure.
Wenger, judging from their demeanour at pre-match conferences, was proving the more successful after all his experience under fire; Rodgers, by contrast, had appeared nervy and preoccupied.
Neither manager boasted a secure defence. Rodgers had experimented unhappily with three at the back against Manchester United while Per Mertesacker had suffered one of his poorest Premier display in the Gunners’ defeat at Stoke.
In midfield, however, Arsenal had greater options through the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. Then, most decisively, Arsenal had beaten Liverpool to the summer signing of Alexis Sanchez.
Liverpool exerted the early, albeit ineffectual, pressure while Arsenal played the better, neater football. But there were no clear chances in a first half until Philippe Coutinho made the breakthrough with his second goal of the season a minute before half-time.
The Brazilian had been Liverpool’s most creative forward and probably earned the luck he drew as his shoot ricocheted into the net off Wojciech Szczesny’s right-hand post. But Arsenal were level almost immediately when Mathieu Debuchy outjumped Martin Skrtel to head his Arsenal goal from close range after a right-wing free kick.
Skrtel was in more trouble early in the second half when he needed extensive treatment for a cut to the back of his head.
Liverpool stepped up their rhythm and Gerrard dive-headed over the bar. However the continuing inability to score goals with the profligacy of last season continued to haunt Liverpool.
Shortly after the hour Arsenal accelerated away on the counter-attack and Giroud stabbed home his fifth goal in six games since his return from an early-season foot fracture.