Arsenal take the lead with a farcical goal!
The goal came from an excellent advantage by the referee Craig Pawson after a foul by David Luiz on Keita. Firmino picked up the loose ball and played it to Salah, who surged thrillingly away from Tierney and hit a shot that was beaten away by Leno. Mane was following up and tapped it into the empty net.
GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal (Mane 28)
Going ahead against Liverpool isn’t always advisable.
27 min Lacazette was miles offside but it didn’t matter because Robertson played the ball to him.
That was Arsenal’s first decent counter-attack of the entire game. They broke the Liverpool press and Lacazette found Maitland-Niles on the left. His cross was poor, but Robertson made a complete hash of a routine clearance, miscuing the ball straight to Lacazette in front of goal. He turned and mishit a volley that bounced over Alisson, who had dived expecting a cleaner contact.
GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Arsenal (Lacazette 25)
Updated at 3.29pm EDT
24 min David Luiz gets away with his first mistake. He tried to play out from inside the Arsenal area and gave the ball to Alexander-Arnold. He combined with Keita to tee up Wijnaldum, whose low shot from inside the D was straight at Leno.
23 min “The midfield tonight for Liverpool is missing its best two players,” says Ciaran Hanley. “I was looking forward to seeing Thiago against a deep-lying defence as that was the main reason he was bought. Henderson is often missed when he’s not playing. So Fabinho, Wijnaldum and in particular Keita need to step up tonight. Fab has to be good defensively, Wijnaldum has to get in the box and Keita has to create.”
You’re right, but sometimes it feels like the front three and full-backs are so good that they could play me, you and Homer Simpson in central midfield and still score three or four.
21 min: Alexander-Arnold hits the bar! Robertson’s outswinging corner was headed away by David Luiz. It came to Alexander-Arnold, who spanked the sweetest half-volley towards goal from 25 yards. The ball hit Bellerin, bounced into the ground and then up onto the bar.
21 min “Another Everton fan hoping for a draw,” says Mary Waltz. “It’s positively juvenile how much pleasure I get from being above the Reds, I know winter is coming and it will not last, but every day at the top, point wise, is an amazing opportunity for joy. Sad, but true.”
20 min Arsenal have barely had a kick, yet Mikel Arteta will be pretty happy I think. They’ve been compact and error-free at the back, and Leno has only one save to make.
16 min “I really want to see a team kick off and score while the opposition are taking a knee,” says Andrew. “Don Revie’s Leeds might have done that. And it was brandy and Red Bull if you really liked mixing your stimulants.”
I’ve drunk some filth in my time but that is off the reservation.
15 min It’s all Liverpool. Alexander-Arnold crosses towards the near post, where Mane sweeps a half-volley at goal. It’s beautifully struck but straight at Leno, who beats it away.
13 min A nice training-ground corner from Liverpool. Robertson, on the left, angles it sharply back towards Salah, who arrives late and spanks it over the bar. It was a difficult chance, on the run and under pressure, though it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see him roof it.
12 min: David Luiz heads off the line! Alexander-Arnold won the ball off Tierney on the right wing and hit a magnificent first-time cross towards the far post. Van Dijk, who was still up from a corner, headed back across Leno and David Luiz nutted the ball behind for a corner. I’m not sure it was going in but David Luiz took no chances.
Updated at 3.25pm EDT
11 min Arsenal are sitting very deep, as they did so successfully against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final. They haven’t yet had any decent counter-attacks, but then nor had Leicester at this stage of their game yesterday.
9 min “Now that your lot are shite for the foreseeable, I can look back with a less jaundiced eye,” says Paul Ewart. “So the question I have for you, is was Anderson a) any good, b) a solid citizen, or c) a disappointment. We can all see that Naby’s a player but it’s make-or-break for him now.”
He had some great games in his first season, especially away to the bigger sides, but got worse as time went on. He remained an essential part of the Arsenal Kryptonite midfield (Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson) but became more of a cult figure. Ultimately he was a disappointment because he had such potential. He was 19 when he played brilliantly at the Emirates and Anfield.
Updated at 3.11pm EDT
7 min Nothing much is happening. You’re welcome!
5 min Lots of early possession for Liverpool, who are playing with a level of confidence that is almost illegal. They are so good to watch. It might be heavy-metal football but there’s plenty of melody in there as well. There’ll be even more once Thiago gets in the team.
3 min Tierney goes down after being hit in the face by Mane. It was more of a shove than a punch, and Mane is booked. It wasn’t a million miles from a red-card offence, but a yellow card was probably right.
Updated at 3.04pm EDT
2 min “I am a committed Naby fan as I watched him carry Red Bull,” says Ian Copestake, “and I don’t just mean in bags from the offie.”
That last image gave me a little chill. Remember when trolleying double vodka Red Bulls by night seemed a good idea?
1 min Peep peep! Arsenal, in their bloody away kit, kick off from left to right.
Updated at 3.05pm EDT
“Can we play Xhaka yellow card bingo?” says Ruth Purdue. “I have the 12th minute. Any takers?”
The players are out on the field and ready for action. The next two hours shouldn’t be dull.
“Under Arteta, Arsenal seem to have coherent strategies,” writes Juan. “Team selection is easy to understand and appropriate to his tactics for each game. The players look as if they know what they are doing. Won’t help us tonight, mind.”
“Keita moves the ball forward in central areas by running with it or quick short passes,” says Niall Mullen. “ I’m not sure how effective that’s been in this team that likes to attack from out wide but I like watching it.”
Oh aye, I’m not saying he’s the new Istvan Kozma; he just hasn’t stood out when I’ve seen him. That said, and odd as it sounds, it’s hard to judge non-highlights players when you do a liveblog because you spend half the match typing/looking at emails/being asked whether you get paid to write this.
Updated at 2.42pm EDT
“As an Everton fan it’s exceedingly rare to be looking down on either of these teams in the table, let alone both of them, so under the circumstances my desired outcome is a draw,” says Matt Burtz. “If Liverpool must win, I would prefer it if it’s only by one goal. If Arsenal wins, well, let’s reckon with that if it actually happens. And yes, I’m aware that only three games have been played, but I’ll take what I can get.”
“Naby Keita seems to be getting a run of games at the moment, regardless of who else is fit,” says Ben Raza. “He’s blown hot and cold (and, mainly, lukewarm) since he came to Anfield. The early part of this season looks like his last big chance I reckon.”
I half thought Curtis Jones might start tonight. Keita has never been that impressive when I’ve seen him, but I get the impression I’ve missed his better games. Liverpool have serious depth in central midfield now.
Diogo Jota is on the bench for Liverpool, but Thiago is out with a minor injury. Alisson starts - he was doubtful with an unspecified injury - and Fabinho moves back into midfield to replace the injured Jordan Henderson.
Mikel Arteta has picked a slightly more cautious team: Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny preferred to Gabriel, Bukayo Saka and Dani Ceballos. The new goalkeeper Alex Runarsson is on the bench.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes: Adrian, Williams, Milner, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Origi.
Arsenal (3-4-3) Leno; Holding, David Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Runarsson, Gabriel, Saka, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Pepe, Nketiah.
Updated at 2.14pm EDT
Aston Villa are hammering Fulham at Craven Cottage in the early game. It’s 3-0 just after half-time: Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Tyrone Mings scored the goals.
Arsenal: your country needs you. Sure, it’s the same country that has sneered at you for most of the past decade, but you must understand that it was only banter. Besides, we all need a favour. Because if somebody doesn’t undermine Liverpool pretty soon, the 2020-21 title race will be over by Christmas for the second year in a row.
While the rest of the Big Six have started the season in varying states of shambles, Arsenal have won their first two games and start tonight’s match above Liverpool on goal difference. Yes, those wins were against Fulham and West Ham, but they have continued Arsenal’s obvious improvement under Mikel Arteta.
They beat Liverpool, albeit in a dead rubber, at the back end of last season and then again on penalties in the Community Shield. Anfield is a whole new level of difficulty, a place where Arsenal have been taken apart in recent seasons. On their last eight visits, they have conceded a bruising 30 goals.
Arsenal do have the players to hurt a Liverpool defence that has been a bit slapdash in recent months. But while they have improved at the back themselves, keeping Liverpool quiet at Anfield is nigh-on impossible. For Gabriel, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney - for the whole Arsenal team - this is the real quiz.
Liverpool are an awesome team who, at the moment, look unstoppable. So did Arsenal in the autumn of 2002 and 2004, yet they didn’t win the league in either season. Things can change, such is the primacy of confidence, but for that to happen somebody needs to urgently introduce Liverpool’s mentality monsters to the concept of self-doubt. Leeds almost managed it; Chelsea didn’t come close. Now it’s Arsenal’s turn. For once, the nation is with them.
Kick off 8pm BST.
Updated at 2.15pm EDT