Liverpool were forced to settle for a point as they played out a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday night.
An absorbing first half ended without a goal, despite chances for both sides – with Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk hitting the woodwork for the Reds and Sadio Mane having an effort ruled out for offside.
James Milner thumped Jürgen Klopp’s side into the lead midway through the second period when he fired Bernd Leno’s punch from Mane’s cross into the back of the net.
However, Alexandre Lacazette equalised for the Gunners on 82 minutes by lifting the ball over Alisson Becker from an angle after being played into space on the left of Liverpool’s area.
The result was enough to move the Reds back to the top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Manchester City, who host Southampton on Sunday.
The team news…
Liverpool made three changes as Milner, Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez returned to replace Adam Lallana, Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren in the starting XI.
The first half…
Liverpool kicked off at Emirates Stadium aiming to return to top spot outright and continue to set the early-season pace with City – but it was Arsenal who mustered the game’s first opportunity when Lacazette’s near-post flick from a low cross was blocked by Alisson in the opening minutes.
The Gunners came into the clash on a 13-game unbeaten run in all competitions and there was an open feel to the contest in the early exchanges. Georginio Wijnaldum hooked over from Mohamed Salah’s cutback for the visitors’ maiden attempt.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then had an effort deflected into the side-netting via the boot of Gomez before Henrikh Mkhitaryan beat Alisson to a cross, but headed inches wide with 15 minutes gone.
Liverpool went closer still to breaking the deadlock soon after when Firmino prodded Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass over Leno and against the post. Mane tapped in the rebound, though was ruled offside.
Next, Van Dijk’s chest and side-footer from Salah’s on-the-button pass was thwarted by Leno’s point-blank sprawl after the centre-back had remained forward from a corner.
The balance of play swung back in the hosts’ favour and Lacazette should have done better when he found space in the right channel of the Reds’ box, though he ultimately dragged well wide of the far post. Aubameyang then headed over from six yards out as Arsenal sought to make their pressure tell.
Back at the other end, in the final seconds of the half, Van Dijk beat Leno to a Milner free-kick, but his glancing header bounced agonisingly against the base of the post as the opening 45 minutes ended without a goal.
The second half…
The relentless pace of the opening half didn’t subside after the re-start and Van Dijk was required to hold off Aubameyang to deny the forward the chance to get a shot away.
Arsenal were looking the more likely to make the breakthrough, but it was Liverpool who took the lead on 61 minutes. Mane sped into space down the left and delivered a powerfully-hit centre, which Leno attempted to punch to safety. However, it fell for Milner just inside the area, who returned it first time into the back of the net with a driven strike.
The Gunners threatened an instant riposte, though Alisson managed to push Lucas Torreira’s strike over the crossbar.
Firmino then headed narrowly wide from a corner and Van Dijk’s thump goalwards with his forehead was tipped over by Leno as Liverpool looked for a second.
But Arsenal levelled with eight minutes remaining when Lacazette reached a ball into the area in the left channel of the box and with Alisson drawn from his line, swivelled and clipped an effort into the far corner.
Both sides look to win it in the final stages, but the spoils were to be shared in north London.