Honours even at Emirates
Robbie Keane scored just his third Premier League goal for Liverpool as they shared the points against 10-man Arsenal.
Last Updated: 22/12/08 10:51am
Robbie Keane scored just his third Premier League goal for Liverpool as they shared the points against 10-man Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
With Rafa Benitez still recuperating at home following an operation on kidney stones, Keane demonstrated the finishing prowess which persuaded the Spaniard to invest £20million to secure his services in the summer.
Racing onto a long ball out of defence from Daniel Agger, Keane gained half a yard on the Gunners defence and showed superb technique to fire an unstoppable shot beyond Manuel Almunia in the 42nd minute.
Robin van Persie had earlier given the Gunners the lead with a brilliant goal of his own, collecting Samir Nasri's sublime pass from the halfway line on his chest before taking the ball away from Jamie Carragher with his left foot and then burying it beyond Jose Reina with his right.
Arsene Wenger's side were reduced to 10 men in the 62nd minute when Emmanuel Adebayor, who had already been booked for a challenge on Emiliano Insua in the first half, left his foot in again on Alvaro Arbeloa and was issued a red card by referee Howard Webb.
Despite their numerical advantage, Liverpool could not find a winner and have only a two-point lead over Chelsea, with the Blues in action away to Everton on Monday evening.
The first decent chance came in the ninth minute when a long ball was knocked back by Keane from the edge of the Arsenal penalty area into the path of Reds captain Steven Gerrard, whose 20-yard effort was straight at Almunia.
Arsenal responded and a clipped ball in from Bacary Sagna on the right floated through to Adebayor, but his glanced, diving header just lacked the power to beat Jose Reina.
Arsenal then snatched the lead through Van Persie after 24 minutes when Nasri, fit again after an ankle problem, chipped a high ball through from just inside his own half towards the edge of the Liverpool penalty area.
The Dutchman collected it on his chest before turning two defenders and spinning to fire a right-footed shot into the net.
Liverpool, whose form has dipped in recent weeks, were clearly rattled after having looked quite comfortable. However, slowly they found some composure and were level three minutes before the break.
The ball was pumped from deep inside the Liverpool half by Agger and bounced over centre-half Johan Djourou into the path of Keane.
The former Tottenham striker - barracked by sections of the home crowd - let the ball bounce again on into the Arsenal penalty area before blasting it past Almunia, wheeling away in delight at having silenced the jeers.
The Reds almost got another ahead of half-time, but Gerrard was just unable to convert Dirk Kuyt's low ball across goal when he arrived at the far post.
Almunia then produced a finger-tip save to deny the Dutchman and keep things level at the break.
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas had sustained what looked like a knee problem in a tackle with Spanish compatriot Xabi Alonso at the end of the first half, and was unable to continue, with Abou Diaby coming on.
Liverpool started strongly, as Almunia was forced to beat away a snap-shot from Lucas.
The tempo of the match increased as the hour approached, but it was the visitors who remained in the ascendancy as Agger headed wide following a corner.
Referee Webb then caused a storm when he reduced Arsenal to 10 men after Adebayor was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Arbeloa, who fell to the ground clutching his face.
Gunners boss Wenger was incensed, but replays suggested the Togo striker had indeed gone in with a raised boot, rather than a flaying arm, and as such probably merited a caution.
The atmosphere in the Emirates was highly charged, and Van Persie was another in the book when he fouled Agger.
To their credit the Gunners responded by pressing Diaby further forwards as they looked to get back in front.
Tempers, though, were never far from boiling point as Sagna became the third Arsenal man into the book when he tripped Albert Riera.
Nasri sent a 25-yard effort wide before a deep corner was whipped across the Liverpool goal from the right.
Almunia saved bravely at the feet of Kuyt as the visitors pressed for a winner.Agger fired a 25-yard strike just over as both teams had to settle for a point.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||5|
|2||Shots off Target||5|