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Liverpool pain will subside

Liverpool
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 By Steven Kelly

Liverpool's fighting spirit spurred on by Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explains that his defense allowed a pair of easy goals which in the end made all of the difference.

Joe Allen was the unlikely hero as the Reds rescued a point from an enthralling but wet night at Anfield.

They took the lead twice through a revitalised Roberto Firmino but were once again beset by the defensive frailties that have hampered them all season, especially from set pieces. Bizarrely, all Liverpool's defenders played well individually.

Olivier Giroud's quality second half finish after more defensive dithering looked to have sealed the points for the Gunners until Allen struck on 90 minutes. Though at times outclassed the Reds showed strength in adversity and must hope this fightback is a sign of good things to come.

LiverpoolLiverpool
ArsenalArsenal
3
3
FT
Game Details

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Simon Mignolet, 5 -- Though there was little for the Belgian to do he was still beaten three times. Goalkeepers should not be beaten on their near post and Arsenal's opener came too early for the Reds to dig in and protect what they had. More weakness at corners was evident, though Mignolet can claim the corner for the second goal should have been dealt with better before he became involved.

DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 -- Solid as usual, but showed more of his attacking skills when Liverpool had to chase the game at 2-3. In fact he showed more threat coming forward than the man immediately in front of him, Jordon Ibe.

DF Kolo Toure, 6 -- Showed a cool head at times when Arsenal swarmed forward and looked set to overwhelm the home side completely. Steady in possession, challenged well in the air, he did little wrong but no defender can be happy when his team concedes three goals.

DF Mamadou Sakho, 6 -- A welcome but fraught return for the Frenchman who had to fend off one quality Arsenal attack after another. He was strong for the most part but was one of numerous players who could and should have done better before Giroud got the Arsenal third.

DF Alberto Moreno, 7 -- Defensively, can still cause one or two palpitations at the back but it was coming forward where the Spaniard excelled. He was an almost constant threat down Arsenal's right and those who argue he might fare better as a left-sided midfielder certainly got their evidence tonight. Better delivery and shooting will certainly be required, but he can never be accused of lacking effort.

MF Jordon Ibe, 5 -- Good first half, though most of his best work came when coming inside onto his left foot. Was found wanting for a lot of the second half, when he could not get the better of Nacho Monreal. A stern lecture from his manager was needed to try and get his head back in the game and he certainly never gave up.

MF Jordan Henderson, 8 -- A very good return from the captain, who found players with good passes and worked hard to stem the Arsenal tide which threatened to engulf Liverpool at times. In a team performance that swung from the sublime to the ridiculous, his display was the one true constant and vital in keeping his side in the game. A real leader's performance.

Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson carried Liverpool on a day when the team's fighting spirit helped earn their result.

MF Emre Can, 6 -- Another curious performance from the German, who can be dominant and classy one second and inept the next. His passing became more and more wayward as the game wore on and his substitution possibly should have come a little earlier than the 81st minute.

MF James Milner, 6 -- Found it hard to thrive in an ill-suited left wing role, but did his best for the team and had some quality moments in a generally good first-half Liverpool performance. Injured in the build-up to Arsenal's third goal, he never fully recovered and was taken off just after the hour mark.

FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- As good as his performance against Manchester City last November, but this time he found two excellent finishes to complete all his good work. Seemed to become downhearted when his defensive colleagues squandered the leads he'd provided but rallied late on to help put pressure on Arsenal

FW Adam Lallana, 6 -- Bizarre mix of a forward and midfield role did not help the England international thrive very often. Worked hard and showed some neat touches but again struggled to find the right pass or quality shot at key moments.

Substitutes:

FW Christian Benteke, 6 -- Came on for Milner because of injury, but as Liverpool chased an equaliser would probably have got the chance anyway. Won the header that provided Allen with a goal, he'd earlier spurned his own chance with a weak header past the post. Service to him was not great, but squandering the one chance that came his way didn't ease the feeling that he is not the answer to Liverpool's attacking problems.

MF Joe Allen, NR -- Only on for 10 minutes but his contribution was vital. Latched onto Benteke's header with gusto and gave the Reds a point for an evening of toil. Played well for the short time he was on.

DF Steven Caulker, NR -- Brought on for an aerial onslaught to find an equaliser, though ultimately the decisive move came from someone else. Helped see out time to keep a point that will hopefully give an erratic league season a much-needed lift.

Steven Kelly writes about Liverpool for ESPN FC and has a weekly Liverpool column for The Irish Examiner. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

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