Liverpool went two goals up only for Liverpool to score twice in three second-half minutes to earn a draw
A fairish result, I suppose. Liverpool defended fairly desperately for a fair amount of the game, and even when they were 2-0 up even their most myopic supporter wouldn't have described their lead as comfortable, not for a moment. Arsenal scored twice in 150 seconds, but spent much of the other 93 minutes in a constant state of nearly-scoring (which is just as well, given the state of their defence). Wilshere and Podolski were excellent throughout, Walcott and Giroud nearly matched them in the second half. Liverpool defended excellently, if pretty desperately on fairly regular occasion. Gerrard and Henderson were very good. Flawed teams with good technique playing at high tempo = good fun, basically. Arsenal's failure to win will be no surprise, of course, to anyone who read my statistically-undeniable preamble.
Anyway, that's all from me. Thanks for your emails and your company. Until next time, bye!
And that's the last meaningful action of an action-packed encounter. A fantastic advertisement for the Premier League (in other words: insane tempo ludicrously maintained, allowing only occasional flashes of convincing skill but a great deal of breathless excitement).
90+4 min: Suárez nearly scores! Liverpool push forward and discover enormous gaps in the home defence, and the Uruguayan runs through one of them before shooting low and hard and forcing Szczesny into a save. Gerrard is just too far away to force the ball home.
90+2 min: A few minutes of Liverpool pressure end with Lucas's foul on Vermaelen.
90 min: Mertesacker gets booked four a crazy lunge at Henderson. The fourth official raises his illuminated number-panel, and the number four is on it.
90 min: Liverpool taking their time over a free-kick 10 yards inside the Arsenal half. Is there one more goal in this?
88 min: Liverpool attack! Downing takes the ball past Santos far too easily and cuts back for Suárez, whose first-time effort from just outside the area flies high.
87 min: Horrible miss by Giroud! Another lovely move from Arsenal ends with Podolski skimming the ball across goal and Giroud, six yards out, fluffing his effort and hardly touching the ball at all.
85 min: Giroud is booked for diving over Agger's challenge just outside the penalty area. Good decision.
84 min: Arsenal attack again, and it ends with Giroud's shot being palmed round the post by Reina. The Frenchman has another go from the corner, heading over the bar.
82 min: Liverpool have a corner, and about 20 seconds later Arsenal nearly score. A lovely move, which ends with Cazorla's cross-shot flying across goal, just too far ahead of Giroud, and out for a goal kick.
80 min: More goals from elsewhere: Frank Lampard has put Chelsea 2-0 up at Reading, and a Gareth Bale wondergoal has equalised for Tottenham against Norwich, where it's 1-1.
78 min: Cazorla's free-kick from the left is back-headed vaguely goalwards by Mertesacker, but the ball flies wide of the near post.
76 min: This is Arsenal's game now. They're a bit more relaxed in their superiority; Liverpool are lacking pace as an outlet.
73 min: Gerrard gets booked for a very late, fairly violent foul on Mertesacker, which seems a fairly disproportionate way to deal with someone who isn't exactly a creative force.
72 min: If words aren't enough and you simply must have some pictures of tonight's footer, this gallery can help.
71 min: Enrique has come on, and Sturridge is off. Enrique will play in left midfield, allowing Suárez to attack through the middle and giving Johnson a bit of a hand against Walcott.
70 min: Walcott cuts in from the left and curls a shot with his left foot just – maybe four inches – wide of the far post. Also: Everton 2 West Brom 1 (Shane Long 65).
69 min: Liverpool haven't done enough to discomfort Arsenal's defensive weakest link, Andre Santos. Perhaps Sterling could help there? First, though, they're readying José Enrique.
What a strike! He couldn't hit the ball cleaner than that. Cazorla passes to Giroud, who lays off to Walcott, wide of the right post. His shot is early and very, very hard, and Reina doesn't move as it flies past him into the far corner.
66 mins: Goals elsewhere: Fulham 1 West Ham 1 (Kevin Nolan 48); Fulham 2 (Hugo Rodallega 49) West Ham 1. So the fairly bonkers football isn't confined to the Emirates, then.
Arsenal pull one back, and it's all so easy! Wilshere curls in a lovely cross with his left boot, from a right-wing free-kick, and Giroud meets the ball at the far post to head in. It's just like watching Stoke!
62 min: Podolski collects a wall-pass from Giroud, and then lashes the ball with his left foot from 20-odd yards not far wide of the near post.
Henderson gets the ball 40 yards from goal and in no position to threaten, but he turns Mertesacker very nicely, advances into the area, shoots, collects a lucky rebound when the shot is blocked by Santos, and passes the ball into an empty net.
57 min: Podolski's free-kick hits the wall; his follow-up hits Carragher in the belly, and then a cross from the right is acrobatically cleared by Agger. Liverpool at least get a breather, as Carragher gets treated for a case of extreme winding.
55 min: Arsenal are well on top at the moment. A long spell of possession ends with Lucas, who hasn't been at his best, fouling Wilshere 20-odd yards from goal. Actually, it was a dive. Still, a free kick.
54 min: A bad miss from Walcott! Podolski, who's having a pretty good game, curls in a cross from the left, and Walcott times his run perfectly to zip past an astonished Glenn Johnson and meet it, just beyond the far post and about seven yards out, but the winger's header goes wide.
53 min: A fine Liverpool break ends with Sturridge keeping the ball rather selfishly and then air-kicking after his boot fell off in a challenge with Mertesacker.
52 min: Podolski falls over Wisdom's bottom. Not a penalty, says the referee.
51 min: André Santos nearly scores! By which I mean, he has the ball in a shooting position in the penalty area. He doesn't actually shoot, as a defender gets there first, kicks the ball into his shin and it's a goal kick.
49 min: The ball is passed to Sturridge in the penalty area, and the ball bounces up off his thigh, hits Vermaelen's left arm – probably not a penalty, I'd say – loops onto Vermaelen's right arm – almost certainly a penalty, I'd say – and then breaks to Suárez. Nothing is given, and the chance is wasted.
48 min: Wilshere's mistake sees the ball break to Sturridge, who holds the ball up before passing back to Sturridge, and Liverpool work the ball nicely from leftg to right, where Downing's cross-shot is blocked.
47 min: Meanwhile, I'm hearing news from Berkshire of a fantastic goal-making pass from Fernando Torres. Really. The facts of the matter, though, are: Reading 0 Chelsea 1 (Juan Mata 45).
46 min: It's started all over again. "The entirely valid criticism levelled at Rodgers early this season was that he’s a “cookie-cutter” manager without a Plan B," writes SB Tang. "But, as the season’s progressed, Rodgers has developed a pragmatic bent previously absent. One couldn’t have imagined him setting Liverpool up to stay deep, ceding possession in a 4-5-yawning-gap-to-Sturridge earlier this season, but that’s what he’s done tonight and it’s bloody working! Fair play to Rodgers. He’s adapting and improving as a manager."
I love Vermaelen's attempt to clear the Johnson cross that eventually led to the first goal. It's just unbelievably, hilariously, gymnastically bad.
Here's an upsum of the first-half stats. Another good stat, courtesy of Opta and nothing to do with this game: Patrice Evra, who set up United's second goal against Southampton, has as many assists to his name this season as David Silva.
…and relax. It's been a ludicrously high-tempo match, the goal coming following a collection of defensive calamities. How no other goals have followed is beyond me. Liverpool have been very good, if occasionally panicky in defence both when Arsenal have the ball, and when they themselves do. Incidentally: Everton 2 (Leighton Baines Pen 45) West Brom 0.
45+3 min: The last move of the half sees the ball break kindly to Cazorla, his pass finds Podolski and the German's cross is aimed at Walcott, which was probably a mistake. It's cleared, and the whistle is blown.
45 min: Suárez has moved to the right wing, presumably to torture André Santos, but his through-ball to Sturridge is overhit. There will be three minutes' stoppage time.
45 min: Roberto Mancini is here, in an extremely fetching burgundy felt trilby which has already inspired several covetous emails.
44 min: Downing passes to Henderson, Szczesny comes for the ball and gets nowhere near it, but the midfielder's attempted chip into an empty net only finds its roof.
43 min: It is almost three minutes since anyone had an effort on goal. Boo! Oh, not any more: Cazorla has a shot blocked.
40 min: Lucas dives in rather foolishly, allowing Wilshere to race forwards, and the move ends with Walcott crossing and Giroud heading too close to Reina from eight yards.
39 min: The Guardian's former chief sports writer (his retirement bash was on Monday night) has this to say – an opinion formed before Andre Santos came on:
37 min: Gerrard's beautiful free-kick finds Agger, whose header should not have given Szczesny the chance to save. No matter: he was (fractionally) offside.
37 min: Kieran Gibbs has gone off because of that muscular injury, and Andre Santos is on!
35 mins: Cazorla places the ball for a corner, but it's outside the little quarter-circle bit. The referee comes over and makes him move it, but as soon as the official's back is turned it's right back where it started. Johnson deals with his cross when it happens, though some Arsenal players think an arm was involved. Incidentally: Norwich 1 (Wesley Hoolahan 32) Tottenham 0.
34 min: Kieran Gibbs has pulled up, presumably with a muscular injury. It looks like he's going to play on, though.
33 min: While it is a little bit sad to see Suárez, a phenomenal attacking force in the first half of the season, forced to do this kind of thing, he is getting back very gamely. He just dispossessed Sagna with the kind of smart, physical shoulder charge that would make him roll over 15 times and demand several penalties if someone did it to him at the other end.
32 min: Henderson tries to find Sturridge with a chip from deep, but finds only touch. More good news for the citizens of Liverpool (or some of them, at least: Everton 1 (Leighton Baines 29) West Brom 0.
30 min: As if keeping up with this mental match and your (extremely welcome) emails wasn't enough, I'm also tasked with keeping you up to date with the other Premier League goals as they fly in. So: Fulham 1 (Dimitar Berbatov 10) West Ham 0.
28 min: "I am following this from the archive of a medical library in Boston," writes Ian Copestake, as Henderson succeeds with a backheel flick to Suárez who, a few passes later, shoots low, across goal and wide. "I am so trying to resist your cruel call to ignore the sign here that says 'no following potential games of the year on anything other than the MBM.'"
27 min: Cleared off the line! Szczesny doesn't get to the corner, Agger does and Podolski comes to the rescue.
27 min: Mertesacker gives the ball away to Henderson, who plays in Suárez, who fails in his attempt to cut inside Vermaelen. Idiotic defending, that.
26 min: The first booking of a stupidly open game so far sees Santi Cazorla punished for a foul on Suárez. Meanwhile, this just in from Old Trafford: Man Utd 1 (Wayne Rooney 8) Southampton 1.
25 min: The game has calmed down a little bit these last few minutes, with Liverpool attacking a bit less. "Were I a neutral, I’d find a feed for this game," writes Nathan Nix. "As an Arsenal supporter, I can’t bear to watch."
24 min: A very good Arsenal attack ends with Podolski's low cross being cleared by a combination of falling-over defenders, though it looped scarily close to the goal on its way out for a corner. Nice move that from the Gunners, probably their finest of the match.
23 min: This just in from Old Trafford: Man Utd 0 Southampton 1 (Jay Rodriguez 3)
20 min: "It looks like another performance of Recent Arsenal's Greatest Hits," writes Mike Nichols, as Walcott destroys Lucas, sprints down the right and slams a cross into Reina's chest. "Classics like 'Vermaelen Flubbing A Routine Play That Ends Up Leading To A Opponent's Goal' and 'Giroud Looking Contrite After Missing a Gilt-Edged Chance.' What's the over/under for how long it is until we see 'Arsene Struggling With His Puffy Coat's Zipper?' I give it 10 minutes."
18 min: The ball was deflected, and the corner ends up at the feet of Vermaelen, in an amazingly good position, central, 13 yards out. His shot is blocked, the ball rolls to Walcott, whose tasty curler is tipped round the post by Reina.
17 min: Giroud slams a shot over the bar, with most of Liverpool's defence sprawled on the ground having at some stage thrown themselves at the ball. If you're not watching this, do something about it. Turn the TV on, find a dodgy internet feed, get yourself to a pub. If the remaining 73 minutes are as ludicrous as the first 17, it'll be worth it.
16 min: "That must go down as one of the worst Premiership goals ever," suggests Corin Armstrong. "I think there were five bad mistakes by both sides in the lead up. Maybe they are learning from the Hazard school if comedy football. Long may it last." There was an Arsenal attack a couple of minutes later that saw a weak low cross somehow go through two defenders' legs, when I thought it might just be that kind of night.
14 min: So now I know how Sturridge got the ball in the 11th minute. Szczesny takes his goal kick short to Vermaelen, who returns it. The keeper then tries to turn away from the onrushing Sturridge and very, very nearly presents him with an open goal, before flicking out a boot to just about prod the ball away from imminent danger.
12 min: Another chance! This time it's Arsenal on the attack, and Podolski's low centre is blasted wide of goal by Giroud.
11 min: An incredibly good pass from the outside of Luis Suárez's right boot finds Sturridge, whose first-time right-foot volley flies across goal and wide. By the time Sky have shown us a replay, Sturridge is in possession again in Arsenal's penalty area. How this happened is beyond me, but he doesn't do anything with it.
9 min: "Great gesture and fine sentiment by the Liverpool fans (and I'm typing as one of the rare, non-Partridge, Oxbridge and gazpacho Guardian-readers)," writes Ryan Dunne as an overhit pass ends another Arsenal attack, "but surely football stopped being working class pretty much twenty years ago with Sky/post-Italia 90?" It's certainly become enormously, ridiculously less affordable to the working classes, but (and I don't have time to look up Liverpool's ticket prices), £62 is certainly beyond anyone but the wealthy.
8 min: This is a bonkers start. It's football in fast-forward.
6 min: Great chance for Arsenal! Walcott scampers into space on the right, advances into the penalty area and then puts his foot through the ball, but his shot doesn't have accuracy to match its pace and Reina saves.
Sagna's slips allows Glen Johnson to run clear on the left. Vermaelen should have cleared his cross, but gets his feet in a muddle and allows the ball to reach Sturridge at the far post. His shot, from close range, is smothered, but Henderson taps the rebound to Suárez and his shot deflects off a defender and in.
4 min: Suárez wins a corner, which is half-cleared and then worked to Sturridge on the right side of the penalty area. His attempt to skin a couple of defenders doesn't go well, and it's a goal kick.
2 min: "Has Carragher given away a penalty or scored an own goal yet?" asks Bryan Tisinger. Not yet, Bryan, though he won't be looking forward to sprint-offs with Theo Walcott. But doesn't he normally score his own-goals for Tottenham? I'm sure the stat was, as of a season or two ago, that he had scored more league goals for Spurs than for Liverpool.
1 min: We're off! Cazorla does the honours, rolling the ball to Wilshere, and then the ball is rolled back to Mertesacker and humped forwards in the most un-Arsenallike manner.
The hands have been clasped, the coin has been tossed. Kick-off is imminent. Meanwhile, news of about-to-be-confiscated banners in the stands:
Has the pre-match handshake been unilaterally replaced with the casual clasp? When did this happen? Is it an official directive, or a spur-of-the-moment thing that spontaneously happened tonight?
"In that picture is it just me or does king George bare more than a passing resemblance to Andrew Marr" asks Oliver Lewis, as the players gather in the tunnel. Well, let's see…
"I hope you won't hold it against me if I say that, despite your scientific analysis predicting an away win, I think Liverpool will need to be lucky to beat the home team tonight," writes Simon McMahon. "I'm anticipating some outrageous skill from both sides, but Arsenal are stronger." Yes, but what about Britney?
On Philippe Coutinho: "He's a very exciting young player. For a young player of 20 he's actually got a lot of experience. He's fantastic in the 1v1, great taking players on, works hard and he's got a goal in him." He's unlikely to feature against Manchester City at the weekend, as he recovers from a minor injury.
"We're very disappointed in Sunday's defeat, but we've been making some great strides and our momentum and performance level in the Premier League has been fantastic. I'll take the blame for the weekend. I picked a lot of young players and changed the team about, and it didn't work. I'll take the blame myself and we'll hopefully get a good performance tonight.
"It's a chance for us to keep moving forward. If we win tonight we go level on points with Arsenal and we've still got a lot of improvement to come in this group."
"There's a lot more to come from me. For myself, I've been performing OK but this is a fraction of what I'm actually able of doing," says Liverpool's newish forward, who seems to have formed a tasty double-act with Luis Suárez. "If you look at maybe when Thierry Henry played with Dennis Bergkamp, or Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, people like that they just get along. For myself and Luis it's been going well. I've been playing as a centre-forward from seven to 19. For people to say to me I'm a winger, they don't know who I am.
"It's amazing here. I already have a love for the club and it's growing. Hopefully we can have a long relationship together and stay in love for the rest of our lives."
"We cannot afford to drop points any more," says Arsène Wenger. "I said that after the Chelsea game, and we responded well against West Ham. Hopefully we'll do the same tonight."
Liverpool make seven changes to the side beaten at Oldham on Sunday, with Steven Gerrard among those returning to the starting XI. Arsenal make six changes of their own, and will have Walcott playing off the in-form Giroud.
The managers have handed in their team-sheets, and today's starting line-ups will look something like this:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Diaby, Koscielny, Rosicky, André Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Wisdom, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Sturridge. Subs: Jones, Jose Enrique, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Shelvey, Skrtel.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Would you like some statistics? Because I think that would be a good place to start. So, Liverpool have won only one of their last 11 league matches against Arsenal, although it should be said that win came on their last visit here, a 2-0 victory back in August 2011 (since when the Gunners have twice won at Anfield).
But Arsenal’s record against Liverpool on matches played on the 30th day of a month is poor – they lost five of the previous six, and their only win came back in 1938. Add to that their dismal head-to-head record against these opponents over league matches played in January – three draws (in the last three January meetings, as it happens: 2003, 2001 and 1999, which ended 2-2, 1-1 and 0-0 in that order), one win (and that was in 1935) and eight defeats – and what you end up with is a perfect storm of anti-Arsenal statistical precedent.
Sure, Liverpool’s record against teams in the top half is the joint-worst in the division, level with Southampton (no wins and five draws in 11 matches). But add to the pot the fact that Britney Spears is riding high in the charts with her collaboration with will.i.am, Scream & Shout, and the case for an away victory becomes almost irresistible. Previous meetings between these teams while Spears has been in the top 40 have not, as a rule, gone the Gunners’ way. Born to Make You Happy was at No4 when Liverpool won 1-0 away in February 2000; Stronger was at No7 when they won 4-0 at home that December and My Prerogative was at No15 for a 2-1 home win in November 2004. Then came a sequence of Spears-inspired 1-1 draws, in October 1997 (with Gimme More a new entry at No3 the previous day); April 1998 (with Piece of Me at No31); December 2008 (the day Womanizer rose from No7 to No3), and April 2009 (the week the forgettable If U Seek Amy limped into the top 40 at No35). Spears has spent a total of 361 weeks – just three short of a full seven years – lingering around the UK hit parade and all Arsenal have to show for it, as far as matches against Liverpool are concerned, is a single 2-1 victory in December 2009 while 3 was in the charts (though it had plummeted 14 places the previous day).
So the results of my in-depth pre-match statistical research indicate that an away win is inevitable. The odds, then, look remarkably generous. Get on it. I’ll be here from seven.