Bernd Leno shaky, Lucas Torreira tenacious as Arsenal hold Liverpool
Alexandre Lacazette's late equaliser earned Arsenal an entertaining 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Saturday to underline the Gunners' top-four credentials.
Lacazette ran on to a pass from Alex Iwobi in the 82nd minute and held off goalkeeper Alisson, creating enough space to fire a difficult shot into the far corner.
In a crowd-pleasing heavyweight battle filled with chances at both ends, Liverpool had taken the lead through James Milner in the 61st minute after goalkeeper Bernd Leno failed to control a cross from Sadio Mane, diverting it straight into the path of the Liverpool midfielder.
But the fightback extended Arsenal's unbeaten streak to 14 games and showed they are ready to compete with England's top sides again.
This was arguably Arsenal's most impressive -- and encouraging -- performance under Unai Emery. Unlike most games this season, the Gunners came out full of energy and intent in the first half and maintained a high level throughout the 90 minutes.
A point certainly felt well deserved and Arsenal easily could have scored more if they had been sharper in front of goal. Following the losses to Manchester City and Chelsea to start the season, Emery's team badly needed a result to prove that they are making strides towards challenging their main rivals and they delivered the right kind of statement at the Emirates.
No team will be able to completely contain Liverpool's high-powered attack for 90 minutes but Milner's opener still felt a bit unnecessary. Leno looked unusually shaky in the air throughout the game and can be singled out as the main culprit for the goal, but the defending from Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi was suspect as well. Arsenal still need to eradicate those defensive weaknesses completely before they can start winning games like these.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Emery went with his most attack-minded lineup by starting his four biggest stars together for the first time, with Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette all getting the nod. It looked like an attempt to fight fire with fire and the quartet managed to peg Liverpool back for large parts of the game and limit the opportunities for the visitors' forwards to shine. His substitutions also worked well, with Iwobi creating the equaliser after replacing Aubameyang.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 5 -- A mixed bag from the goalkeeper. Good saves to deny deny Virgil Van Dijk in either half but also misread a cross which allowed the defender to head on to the post, and should have done better in controlling the cross that led to the goal.
DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- His pace down the right was one of Arsenal's main attacking outlets, but he lost track of Mane in the lead-up to Liverpool's opener.
DF Rob Holding, 7 -- Very good in aerial duels and coped well when dealing with Roberto Firmino in close quarters. A composed performance, with the only negative his poor passing at times.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- Was near flawless for the opening hour but questions can be raised about his role in Liverpool's goal as well.
DF Sead Kolasinac, 7 -- Couldn't have had a tougher assignment in his first league start of the season in going up against Mohamed Salah, but he managed to use his physicality to great effect against the Egyptian without stepping over the line.
MF Lucas Torreira, 8 -- A one-man wrecking crew in midfield at times, throwing himself about to win the ball back and constantly looking to instigate attacks. Keeps going from strength to strength.
MF Granit Xhaka, 8 -- A perfectly timed sliding tackle on Salah in the box set the tone for the entire team. Helped control the game and finally looked like the midfield general Arsenal need him to be.
MF Mesut Ozil, 7 -- Didn't boss the game but showed a few magical touches to create chances for his teammates. Can't be accused of going missing in this one.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 -- Showed his connection with Aubameyang on a couple of occasions and nearly scored with a header in the first half. Still can't get much reward for his work, though.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Arsenal's main danger man in the first half and used his pace to great effect to torment the Liverpool defenders. But faded after the break and was taken off with Arsenal chasing an equaliser.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Came to the rescue with a great strike after a fairly quiet performance up to that point. Should have done better when Ozil set him up with a sublime backheel pass in the first half.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7 -- Gave Arsenal a spark when he came on and did well to set up Lacazette for the equaliser.
MF Aaron Ramsey N/R -- Came on shortly before the goal but didn't have much of an impact off the bench this time.
MF Danny Welbeck N/R -- Injected pace and energy as a late sub and helped create some late chances for the winner.