LONDON: Arsenal were the effective winners as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s two fine teams played each other to a standstill in the most important meeting so far in this Premier League campaign.

The 1-1 stalemate of their final Premier meeting saw Arsenal end the weekend top with Liverpool and Manchester City adrift on goal difference and one point respectively. The Gunners will stay top for the next three weeks because of forthcoming FA Cup rearrangements and then the international break.

A draw was not the worst possible option for either Klopp and Guardiola. City had deserved to lead at halftime through John Stones but then gifted command of the second half to Liverpool who levelled with an Alex Mac Allister penalty.

Penalty claim

Klopp, after his final whistle bear hug with Guardiola, said: “It was the best performance, in the second half, we ever played against Man City. We never made so many good decisions or were so brave. The way the boys played in the second half was exceptional. What a game. What an atmosphere. What an afternoon. So many top performances. The result is all right. Nobody should be opening the champagne bottles.”

Klopp thought Liverpool should have had a penalty in the last moment for a high kick by Jeremy Doku on Robertson.

Guardiola said: “We started really well but they are an incredible team. We had our moments, they had theirs. First half we had momentum, lots of chances then after we gave away the penalty, we suffered. I know how difficult it is at Anfield. Both sides are incredible competitors. It was a good game for the spectators. We take that point.”

This was not a classic. Both teams were wasteful in possession, City did not create enough chances and Liverpool wasted almost all of theirs as the tension told on the players. The high level of anticipation had been illustrated by the setting of kickoff 45 minutes ahead of the ‘usual’ Sunday TV slot at the request of Merseyside Police after fan incidents in previous years.

Super subs

Liverpool missed the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate with Mo Salah and Alistair Robertson fit only to start on the substitutes’ bench. City were essentially at full strength and claimed the initial breakthrough after 23 minutes.

John Stones was the scorer, turning in Kevin de Bruyne’s right-wing corner at the near post. This was the England defender’s first goal since his header against Arsenal on the title run-in last April. Liverpool were unhappy that Nathan Ake had forced Mac Allister out of the path of the ball.

Liverpool’s best chance of a first-half equaliser came four minutes before the interval. Luis Diaz wriggled through two tackles on the edge of the penalty box but shot wastefully wide of goalkeeper Ederson’s right-hand post.

City had only themselves to blame when Liverpool levelled five minutes into the second half. Ake and Mac Allister were again key figures. Ake’s poor back pass was collected by Darwin Nunez who was felled by Ederson. Mac Allister converted the equalising penalty.

Command switch

Ederson, having been shown a yellow card, had to be substituted because of a knee injury sustained in his collision with Nunez.

Suddenly City were shaking and Liverpool were in command. Klopp ramped up the pressure – and the fan fervour – by bringing on Salah and Robertson. Twice the all-action Diaz should have scored. First he shot wide after Salah’s beautiful through ball then he allowed Kyle Walker to clear off his toes with Stefan Ortega’s goal at his mercy.

Ortega made decisive saves from Nunez and Jarell Quansah at one end while Jeremy Doku hit the post at the other.

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