Arsenal v Liverpool: Part Four 1989 to 2017
The first meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool after Anfield ’89 came a couple of months later at the end of July at Wembley in the Makita International Tournament. Arsenal competed within the tournament successfully the season before and was in some way a predecessor to the Emirates Cup in recent years. Liverpool were also invited to take part alongside Dinamo Kiev and FC Porto, with Arsenal taking on the former latter and Liverpool the former. Both the English sides had won their matches to compete for the final twenty-four hours later. Coverage of the match was covered live within the LWT area. A headed goal for Steve Bould on thirteen minutes gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory.
A fortnight later, the two sides would meet again at Wembley for the 1989/90 Charity Shield (now sponsored by Tennents Lager). In between, Arsenal headed to Miami to face Argentinian side Independiente. Back at Wembley a week later, a Peter Beardsley goal gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory. The game never featured live on TV (though highlights were covered by the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’), but with an attendance of 63,149 was well below Wembley’s capacity.
Stuart Jones of the Times, seemingly forgetting how interest in the trophy was flat lining less than two decades prior, or the general dearth of public interest in the trophy before the 1960s said of the Charity Shield that: ‘whereas it was once an eagerly-awaited showpiece, it resembles in the modern age little more than another public training exercise for sides who are increasingly being invited to practise for the season in more lucrative and prestigious events on foreign fields’.
The two sides met again at the end of October 1989 after being drawn together in the third round of the League Cup. A crowd of 40,814 turned out at Highbury for the tie. Arsenal’s leading goal scorer for the previous season - Alan Smith - had a poor start to 1989/90 and found himself dropped in place of Niall Quinn. On the hour mark, Smith came on as sub and secured a 1-0 victory for the Gunners with a goal in the eightieth minute. Arsenal went on to meet second tier Oldham Athletic away in the next round, however crashed to a 1-3 defeat on their Boundary Park artificial surface.
It would take Liverpool just one month to enact a revenge of sorts back at Anfield – exactly six months on from Michael Thomas’s last gasp goal and a month before Christmas 1989. The game would be covered live by ITV’s ‘The Match’. John Lukic saved a first half penalty from John Barnes, however Steve McMahon gave Liverpool the lead with a twenty-yard drive. John Barnes doubled their lead with a great twenty yard free kick after sixty five minutes. Though Alan Smith pulled one back eleven minutes from time, Liverpool took all three points with a 2-1 win. The game would be the final meeting between the two sides during the 1980s.
By the end of 1989, Arsenal and Liverpool had played each other as many as fifteen times in all competitions over the three and a half seasons since George Graham took over at Arsenal, taking in the League, League Cup, Makita International Tournament, Mercantile Credit Cup and the Charity Shield. Arsenal started that day top of the league after beating QPR at home 3-0 the week before, however a Liverpool victory meant the Merseysiders head the table on goal difference with a four-way tie on points between the Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa and newly promoted Chelsea. Liverpool however ended up in a title race with Graham Taylor’s Aston Villa that season.
By the time of Liverpool’s trip to Highbury in April 1990, the Merseyside Reds held a one point lead over Aston Villa with a game in hand. Arsenal meanwhile stood twelve points behind, their faint hopes of a late burst to retain their title dashed by conceding a last-minute goal to Aston Villa in a 0-1 home defeat. The game would be caught live on ITV, with 33,395 in attendance at Highbury. Liverpool were caught out by a quickly taken Paul Davis free kick five minutes before half time, with Paul Merson finishing. The strike however was cancelled out by a late John Barnes equaliser five minutes from time with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool went on to seal their eighteenth and final League title at the end of that month, finishing 1989/90 with a nine-point lead over second place Aston Villa, while Arsenal were seventeen points behind in fourth place. A Gunners side however with only David O’Leary performing at Italia ’90 came back in 1990/91 refreshed and with a point to prove to the rest of the Football League. By the time of Liverpool’s visit to Highbury, Arsenal were unbeaten but in second place and six points behind leaders Liverpool due to two points being deducted for a violent brawl against Man United at Old Trafford.
Just four days prior to the fixture, Fergie’s Man United got their revenge by dumping Arsenal out of the League Cup with a 2-6 thrashing at Highbury. Liverpool on the other hand were the only other unbeaten side left within the old First Division. In front of a 40,419 Highbury crowd however, Arsenal held their nerve spectacularly. Arsenal took the lead on twenty-one minutes, when Paul Merson’s attempt was adjudged to have crossed the Liverpool goal line. One minute into the second half, Arsenal doubled their lead with a Lee Dixon penalty. Arsenal rounded matters off with an Alan Smith goal set up by a Paul Merson backheel two minutes from the end to secure a 3-0 victory.
The Guardian’s match report described that: ‘the main difference in Arsenal's approach was that Thomas and Davis gained an early grip on the midfield which was never seriously challenged by Whelan and Molby, while Merson and Limpar posed a much stronger threat whenever they gained possession of the ball near goal’.
That game would pan out to be the final fixture in which Liverpool faced Arsenal during Kenny Dalglish’s first period in charge of Liverpool. By mid-February, Liverpool had a three point cushion over Arsenal despite winning just two games out of their last seven. Since the turn of the year, Liverpool signed Jimmy Carter from Millwall and David Speedie from Coventry both of which came in for criticism (although the latter made an immediate impact with a debut goal against Man Utd, as well as scoring against Everton in a 3-1 win a few games later). Dalglish also came in for criticism for keeping Peter Beardsley out of the side.
The final straw for Kenny came in the FA Cup, as Liverpool required replays to get past lower league opposition in Blackburn and Brighton. In the fifth round came a tie away at neighbours Everton, where Liverpool took the lead and lost it on four occasions, with the game ending in a 4-4 draw. Dalglish decided on the night that he would quit the managerial role at Anfield and retire from football (although he would be back), which was announced the following Friday to a bemused Merseyside. The fallout from which can be seen from an episode of Saint & Greavsie the following day.
During the early stages of 1990/91, Dalglish had been receiving hospital injections to clear up a puzzling skin rash. In the years since, Dalglish’s shock decision has been attributed to a delayed form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Hillsborough experience of two years earlier, where the Liverpool manager attended each and every funeral of each victim (it’s also easy to forget that Hillsborough was the third disaster in which Dalglish would be unfortunate enough to be present at, along with Heysel and the Ibrox disaster which occurred at an Auld Firm derby on January 2nd, 1971). His assistant Ronnie Moran took over briefly as caretaker manager.
The following day, Liverpool played Luton on what many people called the ‘dreaded’ plastic pitch and faced a 1-3 loss, while Arsenal hammered third place Crystal Palace at home to take the Gunners back to the top of the table on goal difference. There then followed an FA Cup exit to Everton in midweek. To make things worse for Liverpool, one week on Arsenal came to Anfield on top form, which was shown live on ITV’s ‘The Match’. A Paul Merson goal two minutes ahead of half time gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory to put them three points clear at the top of the table.
The Guardian Newspaper write up on the game stated: ‘Arsenal's victory in an absorbing match at Anfield decided nothing but said plenty. This time the League championship was not won or lost, merely pointed more firmly in a southerly direction’. By the close of the season, Graeme Souness had taken over as full time Liverpool manager after inconsistent results under Ronnie Moran. By May day bank holiday Monday, a defeat to Nottingham Forest meant the title went to Highbury. Arsenal finished the season with just one League defeat all season and a seven-point gap over runners up Liverpool, despite being docked two points earlier in the season. Despite this, Graeme Souness felt compelled to claim that ‘Arsenal didn’t win the league, Liverpool lost it’.
Despite this, Souness wouldn’t have any success returning Liverpool to greatness in the League. By the time Arsenal returned to Anfield in January 1992, Liverpool were eleven points off of the top of the table in third place behind league leaders Man United. The Gunners however were even further out of the reckoning for the title, standing twenty points off of the top. Arsenal had managed just two wins from the previous thirteen games, during which time the Gunners exited the League Cup to Coventry City, the European Cup to Benfica and rather embarrassingly, a 1-2 defeat to a fourth tier Wrexham side which finished the previous season bottom of the whole football league, only escaping demotion due to the fact that the league had been extended to ninety-three members.
Also, Arsenal’s hero of Anfield ’89 - Michael Thomas – had transferred from Arsenal to Liverpool just ahead of Christmas 1991, after Mickey fell out with George Graham and spent most of the title run-in sitting on the bench and replaced in the first team by David Hillier. Thomas’s exit from Arsenal would be an acrimonious one and on meeting Arsenal for the first time at Anfield, nearly three years on from the scene of his greatest triumph, Thomas’s every touch would be booed by Arsenal’s travelling support. The game would also be shown live on ITV’s ‘The Match’ on a midweek Wednesday evening.
Also making his Arsenal debut that day would be Ray Parlour, however the Romford Pele gave away a penalty for a foul on Ronnie Rosenthal which Jan Molby put away on the brink of half time. In the second half, a Ray Houghton goal rounded off a 0-2 defeat for Arsenal.
Despite such a poor run of results however, that would be Arsenal’s final defeat of the season. By the time Liverpool came to Highbury to face Arsenal in the return league fixture on Easter Monday, the Gunners had gone fifteen games without loss. Arsenal were standing ten points behind League leaders Man United in fourth, but with only three games left to play. Liverpool meanwhile stood six points behind Arsenal in sixth, but with a game in hand. The Merseysiders however had an FA Cup run to give them encouragement. Two weeks prior at Highbury, they were held to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup Semi Final with second tier Portsmouth. One week prior however, Liverpool became the first team to progress to the FA Cup Final through a penalty shoot-out after being held to a goalless draw.
Liverpool however had failed to win a game in normal play for the previous six matches before heading to Highbury. Arsenal were undoubtedly the form side, which showed in this fixture. A crowd of 38,517 saw Arsenal take the lead on six minutes with David Hillier’s first goal for Arsenal. Ian Wright added a second for the Gunners ten minutes later. Just ahead of half time, Anders Limpar added a superb third from around the centre circle. Two minutes into the second half, Ian Wright added a fourth. With no further scoring, Arsenal ran out 4-0 winners, inflicting Liverpool’s heaviest defeat of the season. This match would be the final time the two sides would meet during in the Football League, as the breakaway Premiership would be formed the following season.
Easter Monday 1992 would also be a red letter day in popular culture for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley, as well as the death of Benny Hill, following on twenty four hours from the passing of Frankie Howerd. Arsenal and Liverpool however would still hold a place in contemporary comedy, as on ‘Harry Enfield’s Television Programme’, the Arsenal side of 1933 would take on the Liverpool side of 1991 with hilarious consequences.
By the end of 1991/92 however, both sides were falling from prominence in the League. Arsenal finished the season in fourth place, ten points behind League Champions Leeds United. Liverpool meanwhile finished eight points behind in sixth place. For Liverpool however, there was the consolation of the FA Cup with a 2-0 victory in the final over Sunderland and a superb goal for former Arsenal star Michael Thomas. In the inaugural Premiership season of 1992/93, both Arsenal and Liverpool had a poor start to the term, with Liverpool losing to Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the season. Arsenal’s start was even worse, having lost their opening two games.
For the third game of the season, Arsenal headed to Anfield to face Liverpool. The game would be featured on Sky Sport’s ‘Super Saturday’. The Gunners picked up their first three points of the Premiership era with a 2-0 win with goals from Anders Limpar and Ian Wright. Like 1989, Arsenal would win by two clear goals, however unlike three years earlier Arsenal did it pretty much without breaking sweat and could have won by more, which kind of signalled that under Graeme Souness Liverpool were very much a different outfit compared to what many people were accustomed to over the previous two decades. However, it was also to be Arsenal’s last win at Anfield for the next nine seasons.
By the end of January 1993, the League table from an Arsenal and Liverpool point of view would have been unthinkable just two years prior. Liverpool were languishing in seventeenth place having won just one of their last ten games in all competitions. Arsenal meanwhile stood eleventh and despite an ongoing run in both domestic Cup competitions, had just one win in ten league games. The game would again feature live on Sky Sports’ ‘Super Sunday’. In front of a crowd of 27,580 at Highbury, a John Barnes penalty gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory. Liverpool’s David James would also save a penalty from Paul Merson.
Liverpool finished the inaugural Premiership season in sixth place and twenty five points behind Champions Man United, while Arsenal were three points behind in tenth. The Gunners however pulled off an unprecedented FA Cup and League Cup Double that season. In 1993/94, the two sides met for the first time in the League at Anfield at the start of October. Arsenal stood just three points behind League leaders Man United after nine games, while Liverpool stood seven points behind in thirteenth. In front of a crowd of 42,750 at Anfield, the two sides played out a 0-0 draw. Reports of the game showed just how both sides had fallen within a few short years.
The Times headline went with ‘Liverpool stumble over Arsenal's lack of ambition’, while The Guardian report that: ‘in a few brief years Liverpool have been marginalised as a championship force. In terms of this year's title race this result was more about Arsenal losing two points than Liverpool showing any genuine signs of becoming involved’. This game would be the last in which Graeme Souness would face Arsenal as Liverpool boss and following a home defeat to Bristol City at the end of January 1994 would resign and be replaced by boot room member Roy Evans in the Anfield hot seat.
The first meeting between the two sides during Evans’s reign came in late March 1994. At the time, Liverpool had climbed to sixth place, while Arsenal were four points above them in fourth, but a good fifteen points off of runaway League leaders Man United. The Gunners however were progressing toward the last four of the European Cup Winners Cup. A goal for Paul Merson gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory. It would however turn out to be their last victory over the Merseyside Reds until after the millennium.
Arsenal finished 1993/94 in fourth place, though over twenty points off of Man United. The Gunners however did secure the European Cup Winners Cup with a 1-0 win over Parma in May. Liverpool meanwhile finished eighth. In 1994/95, the two sides met two games into the season. The match would again be captured by Sky Sports’ ‘Super Sunday’, which witnessed a 0-3 hammering for the Gunners at Anfield, losing their second game in a week as a result of a Robbie Fowler trio of goals in under five minutes, which became the quickest hat-trick in Premiership history. This game would also come within the midst of a five-game run without win for Arsenal, in what be a relatively poor season on the domestic front.
In January, Liverpool would also eliminate Arsenal from the League Cup in the Quarter Final stage, with an Ian Rush goal inflicting a 0-1 defeat on the Gunners. This would be the final game in which Arsenal would face Liverpool during the era of George Graham’s reign, after he would be sacked as a result of financial irregularities at the club. His former assistant Stewart Houston would take oer as caretaker until the end of the season. Liverpool meanwhile went on to win the League Cup that season with a 2-1 win over second tier Bolton.
Ten days after that League Cup win, Liverpool ventured to Highbury to face Arsenal in the Premiership. Liverpool were fifth, but twenty-one points off of Premiership leaders Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal were now twelfth in the table. In front of a crowd of 38,036 at Highbury, a last minute goal for Robbie Fowler earned Liverpool a 1-0 away win and their first domestic double over Arsenal since 1987/88. Liverpool finish the season fourth, while Arsenal end 1994/95 midtable, but reached the European Cup Winners Cup Final, though lose to Real Zaragoza.
During the summer of 1995, Bruce Rioch took over as Arsenal boss. His first meeting with Liverpool came at Anfield forty-eight hours before Christmas 1995. At the time, Arsenal stood sixth, while Liverpool were one place ahead of them on goal difference in fifth. In front of a 39,806 Anfield crowd, Ian Wright gave Arsenal the lead on eight minutes with a penalty. However, another Robbie Fowler hat-trick earned Liverpool a 3-1 victory. Gunners boss Bruce Rioch would concede on Fowler that: ‘I saw him play at Blackburn reserves a few years ago. I thought then he was one to keep an eye on’.
The return fixture at Highbury came on May Day 1996 for the penultimate game of the season. Liverpool were assured of third and awaiting their FA Cup Final date with Man United at Wembley, while Arsenal were pushing to regain a place in Europe and standing fifth. In front of a Highbury crowd of 38,323, the two sides played out a 0-0 draw with David James pulling off a top-drawer performance to keep Arsenal at bay. The Gunners however secured their European place with a 2-1 win over Bolton to finish above North London neighbours Spurs for the first of twenty-one consecutive seasons. Liverpool meanwhile lost the FA Cup Final 0-1 to an Eric Cantona goal.
Bruce Rioch would be sacked by Arsenal on the eve of the 1996/97 season. Arsenal faced an away trip to Anfield two games into the season, with Stewart Houston again taking over as caretaker. Two second half goals for Liverpool’s Steve McManaman piled on Arsenal’s misery with a 0-2 defeat.
Arsenal also suffered the exit of Houston, with Pat Rice covering until an Arsene Wenger arrived at Highbury from Grampus Eight in Japan to take over as Gunners boss. His first meeting with Liverpool as Arsenal boss came in the Fourth Round of the League Cup at Anfield in December 1996. Despite two penalties for Ian Wright, Liverpool ran out 4-2 winners with goals for Steve McManaman, Patrick Berger and two for Robbie Fowler. Liverpool lasted just one more round in the tournament before losing to Middlesbrough in the Quarter Final. By the time of Liverpool’s trip to Highbury in late March 1997, Liverpool stood above Arsenal in second on goal difference. Both were six points behind Premiership leaders Man United.
Stan Collymore gave Liverpool the lead six minutes into the first half. The talking point of the game however came on sixty five minutes. Arsenal keeper David Seaman was adjudged to have brought Robbie Fowler down in the box. Fowler however held his hands up in an unprecedented show of sportsmanship. The referee however failed to change his mind. Fowler missed his spot kick, though Jason McAteer followed up with the rebound to double Liverpool’s lead. Twelve minutes from time, Ian Wright pulled one back for the Gunners, though Liverpool ran out 2-1 winners.
Arsenal finished 1996/97 in third place and ahead of Liverpool by goal difference, though eight points behind Champions Man United. In 1997/98, Liverpool came to Highbury in late November in eighth place. Arsenal meanwhile were four points behind Premiership leaders Man United in third, though had only managed to win just one of their previous five games. A spectacular goal for Steve McManaman just ahead of the hour mark gave Liverpool a 1-0 win.
By the time of the return fixture at Anfield in May 1998, the picture for Arsenal had changed dramatically. After a run of fifteen victories out of eighteen from Christmas onwards, Arsenal took the title with a 4-0 victory over Everton. Three days later at Anfield, Arsenal were given a guard of honour by the Liverpool players and fans. Having secured the title and awaiting the FA Cup Final in ten days’ time to secure the Double, Arsenal took their foot off of the pedal, while goals for an eighteen year old Michael Owen, Oyvind Leonhardsen and two for Paul Ince inflicted a 0-4 drubbing on the Gunners. Arsenal however secured their second double ten days on with a 2-0 win over Newcastle. Liverpool meanwhile finished 1997/98 thirteen points behind Arsenal in third place.
By the start of the 1998/99 season Roy Evans’s assistant Ronnie Moran retired and would be replaced by Gerard Houllier who would be appointed as a joint manager. Arsenal visited Liverpool for the second fixture of the season which ended in a 0-0 draw. The joint manager set up however wasn’t to Roy Evans’s liking which led to his resignation, leaving Houllier in sole charge of Liverpool and bringing an end to the Boot Room succession nearly four decades on from Bill Shankly’s appointment.
Gerard Houllier’s first game in sole charge of Liverpool against Arsenal came in early January 1999. At the time, Arsenal stood in fourth place and four points behind Premiership leaders Aston Villa. Liverpool meanwhile were four points behind Arsenal in seventh. The two sides however played out a 0-0 draw thanks to a more defensive Liverpool incarnation under Houllier. The Sunday Telegraph piece on the game stated: ‘Gerard Houllier invited Arsenal to storm the Bastille at Highbury yesterday, but the champions found they did not have the armoury to breach the defence he had constructed’. Arsenal finished 1998/99 in second place and one point behind Champions Man United, while Liverpool finished twenty-four points behind Arsenal in seventh.
The final meeting between the two sides during twentieth century came five games into the 1999/2000 season in late August. Goals for Robbie Fowler and Patrick Berger gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory.
The first meeting of the new millennium came in mid-February 2000. At the time, Arsenal stood nine points off of Premiership leaders Man United and above Liverpool in fourth by goal difference. A goal for Titi Camara gave Liverpool a 1-0 win, which took them above Arsenal in the table. Arsenal however finished the 1999/2000 season above fourth placed Liverpool, as runners up but eighteen points off of Man United who retained their title.
After fifteen games without a win against Liverpool, Arsenal’s barren spell finally came to an end two games into the 2000/01 season in August. Goals for Lauren after eight minutes and a second from Thierry Henry in the final minute of the game finally brought Arsenal a 2-0 victory. There would however be a hat-trick of red cards from referee Graham Poll as Gary Mc Allister and Didi Hamann received their marching orders for Liverpool, while Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira would receive his second sending off in two games. The Liverpool Echo report on the game claimed: ‘How three players could receive their marching orders is a question only the mysterious mind of the man in black could answer’.
Arsenal’s Liverpool jinx however was still not fully extinguished. The Gunners’ trip to Anfield for 2000/01 came two days before Christmas. Arsenal were six points behind Premiership leaders Man United, but with a game in hand. Liverpool – who secured a 1-0 win over Man United a week before – were four points behind Arsenal in fifth having played one game more. An Anfield crowd of 44,144 saw goals from Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Nick Barmby and a last minute goal from Robbie Fowler, as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners.
Liverpool went on to secure the League Cup in February, before meeting Arsenal again in the 2001 FA Cup Final – this the very first one for seventy-eight years and the first ever held outside of England, as during the rebuilding of Wembley Stadium, the FA Cup Final was transferred to its new temporary home at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Also, just six weeks on from the tragic untimely passing of David Rocastle, his young nine year old son Ryan had been selected as the mascot to lead out the Arsenal side for the occasion.
In the event, Arsenal had dominated to such an extent that former Anfield legend Alan Hansen summarised that had you been shown the highlights without the goals you’d have sworn Arsenal had won, as well as being denied a penalty from a Stephane Henchoz handball plus a further two cleared off the line. They were however undone by two late strikes from Michael Owen in the final ten minutes, giving Liverpool their first silverware of the new millennium, after a six-season gap between trophies.
Liverpool also went on to secure a treble by winning the UEFA Cup with a 5-4 victory over Spanish side Alaves. On the final day of the League season, Liverpool capped a fruitful year, by also finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League the following season. Arsenal meanwhile finished second in the table for the third year in succession. In 2001/02, Arsenal headed to Anfield two days before Christmas 2001 to face a Liverpool side whom they had failed to pick up an away win against over nine years. Liverpool topped the Premiership table, with a three-point gap over Arsenal in second place.
Thierry Henry gave Arsenal the lead ahead of half time. Eight minutes later Freddie Ljungberg had doubled Arsenal’s lead. Two minutes later, Finnish international Jari Litmanen pulled one back for Arsenal, but could not prevent a 2-1 victory for Arsenal. The result saw Arsenal leapfrog Liverpool on goal difference, however it would be Newcastle United who topped the Premiership on Christmas Day.
The return league fixture had been just three weeks later at Highbury. Liverpool had slipped to fifth place, though Arsenal were just one point above them in third. The Gunners were two points off of Premiership leaders Leeds United, but with a game in hand. Freddie Ljungberg gave Arsenal the lead, however four minutes later a John Arne Riise equaliser drew Liverpool level. With no further scoring, the game ended 1-1.
Incredibly, the two sides would meet for a third time in six weeks, after being drawn together in the third round of the FA Cup at Highbury. The game would be shown live on the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’. A first half Dennis Bergkamp goal was enough to send Arsenal through to the last sixteen of the competition with a 1-0 win. Liverpool had Jamie Carragher sent off with eighteen minutes left to play, after he threw a coin back into the Highbury crowd, that had initially been thrown in his direction.
Arsenal made it all the way to the final again and defeated Chelsea at Cardiff. The Gunners made it a Double in 2001/02 by defeating Man United at Old Trafford. Liverpool meanwhile broke the Wenger-Ferguson duopoly on the Premiership’s top two places by finishing runners up. This meant that Liverpool got to contest the FA Community Shield against Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (the first year after which the FA were forced to change the name of the competition by the Charity commission). In front of a crowd of 67,337, newly signed Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory with a goal on sixty-eight minutes.
The first meeting between the two sides in the Premiership in 2002/03 came in the interim between Christmas and New Year at Highbury. Arsenal topped the table with a four-point lead over second placed Chelsea. Liverpool were nine points behind in fifth. Danny Murphy gave Liverpool the lead on seventy minutes from the penalty spot. Nine minutes later, Arsenal scored an equaliser by Thierry Henry, with the score ending in a 1-1 draw.
The return meeting came exactly one month later at Anfield. Arsenal were still top, but their lead now cut to two points over Man United in second, but with a game in hand. Liverpool by now had slipped to sixth place. Arsenal took the lead on nine minutes with a goal from Robert Pires, before John Arne Riise equalised six minutes into the second half. Dennis Bergkamp put Arsenal back in front before the hour mark. Arsenal held the lead until the final minute when an Emile Heskey equaliser earned Liverpool a 2-2 draw.
Arsenal finished 2002/03 by retaining their FA Cup, though lost out on the title to Man United by a five-point margin. Liverpool meanwhile lost out on a Champions League place in fifth place, after losing a ‘play-off’ with Chelsea on the final day of the season. In 2003/04, Arsenal came to Anfield eight games into the season unbeaten and topping the table, while Liverpool were eighth. Harry Kewell gave Liverpool the lead on fourteen minutes, before a Sami Hyypia own goal on the half hour drew the Gunners level. With just over twenty minutes to go however, Arsenal secured the points with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a Robert Pires wonder strike.
By the time Liverpool came to Highbury for the return fixture on Good Friday in early April, Arsenal were still unbeaten and had just surpassed the Liverpool side of 1987/88’s joint unbeaten record from the start of the season with Leeds United of 1973/74, with their thirtieth match unbeaten. The Gunners however had been eliminated from both the FA Cup and the Champions League the previous week. Liverpool meanwhile stood fourth. Sami Hyypia gave Liverpool the lead on five minutes, before Thierry Henry equalised on the half hour. Three minutes before half time however, Michael Owen restored Liverpool’s lead.
According to the documentary film made on the ‘Invincibles’ several years later, Arsenal were inspired by Martin Keown taking to the floor in the dressing room to rally the troops with the agreement of Arsene Wenger. Arsenal turned the corner within the first five minutes of the second half, with goals from Robert Pires and specular mazy run from Thierry Henry. With twelve minutes to go, Henry completed his hat-trick as Arsenal ran out 4-2 winners
Arsenal went on to secure the title in 2003/04 unbeaten. That fixture however would be Gerard Houllier’s last as Liverpool boss as he was sacked over the summer of 2004 and replaced by Rafa Benítez, as Liverpool finished the season in fourth place, but won back their place within the Champions League for the following season. Arsenal nremained unbeaten for forty-nine league games until defeat to Man United at Old Trafford in late October 2004. By the time Arsenal came to Anfield almost exactly one month later, they stood in second place, behind Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea atop of the Premiership. Liverpool meanwhile stood eighth.
Liverpool took the lead with a goal from Xavi Alonso four minutes before half time. Just before the hour mark, Arsenal scored an equaliser from Patrick Vieira. In the final minute however, Liverpool secured all three points, as a long-range strike from Neil Mellor gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory.
By the time Liverpool came to Highbury the following May, the Merseyside Reds had reached the final of the Champions League five days prior with a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Semi Final. With three games of the season left to go, Arsenal’s title had already been conceded to Chelsea who held a fourteen-point lead over Arsenal. The Gunners were now looking beneath them at Man United three points behind them challenging for the automatic Champions League spot for next season. Liverpool meanwhile needed a win to keep them in contention for the fourth-place spot, as neighbours Everton had built up a six-point lead over them in fifth place.
Goals for Robert Pires and Jose Antonio Reyes gave Arsenal a two-goal lead by the half hour. Steven Gerrard meanwhile pulled one back for Liverpool six minutes into the second half. In the final minute, a goal for Cesc Fabregas made the points safe for Arsenal with a 3-1 win. Liverpool were now reliant on winning the Champions League to secure participation in the competition the following year, which they duly did over AC Milan on a penalty shoot-out.
The first meeting between Liverpool and Arsenal during the 2005/06 season occurred as late as Valentine’s Day in February at Anfield. Liverpool stood third, but eighteen points off of runaway leaders Chelsea. Arsenal meanwhile were seven points behind Liverpool in fifth place. A goal for Luis Garcia three minutes from time earned Liverpool a 1-0 victory.
The return fixture back at Highbury came in mid-March. Liverpool were still third, while Arsenal had now sunk to seventh place. Two goals for Thierry Henry earned Arsenal a 2-1 victory, while Luis Garcia would be on target for Liverpool. That game would be Liverpool’s final visit to Highbury. After this game, Liverpool went on a run of eleven straight league victories. By the end of the season, Liverpool finished third and nine points behind Champions Chelsea, as well as winning an exciting FA Cup Final against West Ham on penalties. Arsenal meanwhile secured fourth spot on the final day of the season though accrued fifteen points less than Liverpool. The Gunners also reached the Champions League final, but were defeated 1-2 in Paris.
The following November, Liverpool made their first trip to Arsenal’s new home half a mile down the road in Holloway. Liverpool stood seventh in the table, while Arsenal had one point more in fifth but with two games in hand. The Gunners were however trailing Man United at the top of the table by ten points. A crowd of 60,110 saw goals from Mathieu Flamini, Kolo Toure and William Gallas give Arsenal a comprehensive 3-0 victory.
By January 2007, Arsenal would come to be drawn away against Liverpool in both domestic competitions and face each other twice within three days. The run up to the FA Cup tie would see a reprisal of Hillsborough as a talking point due to former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, speaking at a business lunch in Newcastle, reasserting his claim that the Sun’s infamous front page from 1989 was ‘the truth’ and that: ‘I went on (BBC Radio show) the World at One the next day and apologised. I only did that because Rupert Murdoch told me to…..I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now because we told the truth. There was a surge of Liverpool fans who had been drinking and that is what caused the disaster’.
The Anfield crowd’s response was unified and awe inspiring, with the Kop holding aloft cards which spelt out ‘the truth’ and the continuous chanting of ‘Justice for the 96’ for six minutes into the game in protest. On the pitch however, awesomeness belonged to the Arsenal with two first half goals from Tomas Rosicky putting Arsenal two up. Dirk Kuyt pulled one back for Liverpool, however a superb solo goal from Thierry Henry gave Arsenal a 3-1 victory.
Three days on, the two sides would meet again at Anfield in the League Cup. By half time Arsenal were 4-1 up with Jeremie Aliadiere putting Arsenal ahead, Robbie Fowler equalising and a brace of goals in the last five minutes before half time with goals from Alex Song and two for Julio ‘the Beast’ Baptista. The beast added a fifth on the hour to grab his hat-trick, though would have a penalty saved by European Cup final hero of two years prior - Jerzy Dudek, as well as goals for Steve Gerrard and Sami Hyypia shortening Arsenal’s lead. Baptista however would add a sixth and his fourth of the game, which resulted in a 6-3 win for the Gunners (to think there was actually a time where scoring two goals at Anfield felt like a mountain to climb! Eighteen years on, Arsenal would bag nine goals there in a week!).
By the end of March, Arsenal would head back to Anfield for a third time under three months – this time the Premiership. Liverpool stood in fourth place, one point behind Arsenal though the Gunners had a game in hand. Arsenal however stood twenty points behind Premiership leaders Man United with both sides well off of the pace in the race for the title. Liverpool would get a revenge of sorts.
on Arsenal by inflicting a 1-4 defeat on the Gunners with goals from Daniel Agger and a hat-trick from Peter Crouch with William Gallas on the scoresheet for Arsenal. Over the four games played between the two sides through the 2006/07 season however, it would still be 13-8 on aggregate to the Gunners.
By May 2007, both Arsenal and Liverpool finished the season on level points though the Merseysiders would finish third on goal difference, while Arsenal again achieved Champions League qualification with a fourth-place finish. Liverpool would again reach the Champions League final against AC Milan, though this time would lose 1-2 to the Italians. In 2007/08, an Arsenal side unbeaten after nine games would visit Anfield in the League. The Gunners were second in the Premiership, one point behind leaders Man United with two games in hand. Liverpool took the lead through an excellent Steven Gerrard free kick, the Gunners however equalised ten minutes from time with a Cesc Fabregas strike.
Arsenal would remain unbeaten in all competitions until November, however their form in all competitions would decline steeply in the second half of the season and by the start of April 2009 had only managed to win two of their last eight games in all competitions. Arsenal stood third and six points from league leaders Man United with five games left to go, while Liverpool were eight points behind in fourth place. One of those victories had been to eliminate reigning European Champions AC Milan in the second phase of the Champions League. On reaching the Quarter Final, Arsenal would be drawn against Liverpool, with the first leg at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal took the lead with a goal from Emmanuel Adebayor midway through the first half. Three minutes later, Dirk Kuyt equalised as the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw. Arsenal had a chance to win the first leg though an offside Nicklas Bendtner, got in the way of a net-bound effort from Cesc Fábregas. Three days later came the return Premiership fixture. Peter Crouch gave Liverpool the lead three minutes from half time. Arsenal however equalised nine minutes into the second half, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
The following Tuesday came the third meeting between the two sides within six days, this time the second leg of the Champions League tie at Anfield. Arsenal took the lead through a goal from Abou Diaby, though Liverpool had equalised by half time with a goal from Sami Hyypia. Liverpool took the lead through a Fernando Torres goal on sixty-nine minutes, Arsenal however went ahead on away goals with just six minutes to go from Emmanuel Adebayor slotting away a pass from Theo Walcott after a terrific run from the teenager from his own half. Sadly for Arsenal, just two minutes later Kolo Toure would bring Ryan Babel down in the penalty area. Steve Gerrard slotted away the penalty and a further goal from Ryan Babel inflicted a 2-4 defeat on Arsenal. Liverpool however would be eliminated in the Semi Final of the competition by Chelsea over two legs.
Arsenal finished the 2007/08 in third place and four points off of Premiership Champions Man United. Liverpool finished seven points behind Arsenal in fourth. The Champions League Quarter Final defeat at Anfield which consigned them to a third trophy-less season however arguably struck a psychological blow which it took the side nearly five years to recover from. By the time Liverpool.
came to Arsenal, four days before Christmas 2008, the Merseysiders topped the Premiership with a one-point lead over Chelsea in second. Arsenal meanwhile were eight points behind in fifth. Arsenal took the lead with a goal from Robin Van Persie midway through the first half. Three minutes before half time however, Liverpool equalised with a goal from former Spurs striker Robbie Keane. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Arsenal headed to Liverpool in late April 2009 in fourth place with a cushion of seven points over fifth place Aston Villa. Liverpool meanwhile were one point behind Premiership leaders Man United in second. Both sides had won their last five games in the Premiership. Arsenal took the lead through a strike from the in-form Andryi Arshavin, though by the hour mark Liverpool would take the lead through goals from Fernando Torres and future Arsenal star Yossi Benayoun who in scoring for Liverpool would nearly have his head kicked off his shoulders in the process. Two further strikes from Arshavin would put Arsenal 3-2 ahead with twenty minutes left, though Liverpool would draw level from Torres’s second two minutes later.
Arshavin would bag his fourth goal in the last minute, however Benayoun would bag his second a few moments later with the game ending in a 4-4 draw. Andryi Arshavin scored four of Gunners' goals. The last time a player scored four goals vs Liverpool in the league at Anfield was on 7th December 1946 when Dennis Westcott scored four for Wolves in a 5-1 victory. Arshavin however was full of praised for the Liverpool fans, stating: ‘It was typical English football, with a high tempo, good skill, good chances and an amazing atmosphere at Anfield. I must say that with the crowd there, it’s like you’re 11 men playing against one big family. It’s not like their supporters have just come to watch the team, it’s as if you are playing them as well!’.
Liverpool finished the season four points behind Man United as runners up, while Arsenal were fourteen points behind in fourth. Both Arsenal and Liverpool however would meet in a two-legged FA Youth Cup Final in May 2009. A stupendous crowd of 33,000 in attendance for the first leg at the Emirates Stadium. Giles Sunu opened the scoring for Arsenal, followed by a Jack Wilshere penalty. Liverpool hit back with a great volley from Kacaniklic, however Arsenal extended their lead with goals from Sanchez Watt and rounded off with a header from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Arsenal went on to win the second leg 2-1 at Anfield (6-2 on aggregate), to take the trophy twenty years to the day after Michael Thomas's Anfield winner. This would be Arsenal's only trophy win of significance for Arsenal in the late noughties, though sadly, from this particular crop of Arsenal youngsters, only Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin remain within the side.
Later that calendar year, at the end of October 2009, the core of the Arsenal youth theme continued with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the League Cup with a tremendous goal from Fran Merida and the winner from Nicklas Bendtner, while Emiliano Insúa would be on target for Liverpool.
Meanwhile, the last meeting between these two sides during the noughties came two weeks before Christmas 2009. Arsenal stood forth in the table and trailing Premiership leaders Chelsea by nine points, but with two games in hand. Liverpool meanwhile stood four points behind in seventh. Andryi Arshavin would be the difference between the two sides again. Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool a first half lead, however a Glen Johnson own goal and a winner from the Russian eight minutes later would give Arsenal the points in a 2-1 win.
The first meeting between the two sides during the 2010s came in North London the following February. Arsenal were one place above Liverpool in third, but with a four-point gap. The Gunners trailed leaders Man United by seven points. An Abu Diaby goal eighteen minutes from time gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory. Arsenal finished the 2009/10 season eleven points behind Double winners Chelsea. Liverpool meanwhile finished a lowly seventh place, which saw the departure of Rafa Benítez replaced by future England boss Roy Hodgson.
Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge at Anfield came against Arsenal on the opening day of the 2010/11 season. Liverpool debutant Joe Cole found himself red carded just ahead of half time. David N’Gog however put Liverpool ahead in the first minute of the second half. Daniel Agger also got hit by a ball in the face at close range which left Liverpool effectively with nine men for the last part of the game as Agger was dazed and confused: ‘I remember most of the things about the Arsenal game until I got the kick in the head – after that it is just a blank. I struggled a bit with the concussion and it is only in the last few days that I have started feeling normal again. I’ve had dizziness, headaches; I felt really strange. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would affect me as much as it did; I just wasn’t myself. I felt like I was wandering around in my own world’.
Roy Hodgson however was denied a winning start to his Anfield tenure with an own goal in the dying minutes of the game from Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina. For Gunners fan, it was just desserts for Reina who in celebrating Spain’s World Cup winning parade on their return to Madrid pulled a Barcelona jersey over Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas, after a summer of speculation that we would be moving to the Camp Nou. The game ending in a 1-1 draw.
By the time of Liverpool’s visit to Arsenal in mid-April, Hodgson had been replaced by Kenny Dalglish returning to Anfield. Liverpool stood in sixth place though eight points off of a Champions League spot with six games left to go. Arsenal meanwhile were blowing their title challenge with a weak run-in, now trailing leaders Man United by seven points in second place, but with a game in hand. After huffing and puffing, it took Arsenal until the last minute to break down Liverpool to take the lead with a Robin Van Persie penalty. The lead however lasted a matter of seconds, after Lucas was brought down in the area by Emmanuel Eboue and Dirk Kuyt converted the subsequent spot kick, leading to an amusing touchline altercation between Wenger and Dalglish, with the latter clearly heard telling the former to ‘p**s off’. The game finished up in a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool finished 2010/11 in sixth place, while Arsenal slumped to fourth and twelve points behind a Man United side winning back their Premiership title. Arsene’s gloom was to follow into the start of next season, before Liverpool’s visit in August 2011 at the end of a week where riots had broke out across many parts of England. Cesc Fabregas had finally left for Barcelona after a long,
protracted transfer saga over the summer. Cesc would later be followed by Samir Nasri who against Liverpool would be playing his last game before exiting to Eastlands. Emmanuel Frimpong’s sending off, an Aaron Ramsey own goal and a goal for Liverpool’s new signing Luis Suarez led to a 0-2 defeat to Liverpool in August 2011, the first away win for the Merseyside Reds over Arsenal since February 2000.
Worse was to follow for Arsenal a week later at Old Trafford, where the Gunners suffered an 2-8 hammering from Man United. By March however, they’d got some sort of semblance of order to their season, mainly off the back of the blistering form of Robin Van Persie. Arsenal were fourth in the table, though trailing leaders Man City by seventeen points. Liverpool meanwhile were seventh, but had won the League Cup Final against Cardiff City the week prior.
A Laurent Kosielny own goal would give Liverpool the lead. Two goals for Robin Van Persie during his ‘annus miribulus’ season clinched three points for Arsenal with the winner coming in the last-minute giving Arsenal 2-1 win. Arsenal finished the season third, while Liverpool would be defeated in the FA Cup Final to eventual European Champions Chelsea. The Mersey Reds would also finish 2011/12 in eighth place, with Kenny Dalglish making way for Brendan Rodgers to take over as Liverpool boss in the summer of 2012.
After two 0-0 draws at the start of the 2012/13 season, Arsenal travelled to Anfield at the start of September with many speculating on whether Arsenal would be able to bag goals without Robin Van Persie, who had recently departed to Man United. The Gunners however would take all three points with goals from two summer signings, Lukas Podolski and Santi Carzorla in a 2-0 win over Liverpool.
By the time of Liverpool’s trip to North London for the return fixture in late January, sixth place Arsenal were above seventh placed Liverpool on goal difference, though had two games in hand. Luis Suarez would give Liverpool the lead, with Arsenal facing a second home defeat to Liverpool in successive years after going two down when Jordan Henderson extended Liverpool’s lead further. Arsenal however would turn the game round however with goals from Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott earning the Gunners a 2-2 draw. Arsenal finished 2012/13 in fourth place, while Liverpool came seventh.
By the close of the transfer window in September 2013, Arsenal had signed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, which had indicated renewed confidence from Arsenal. By the time of Liverpool's journey to North London to face the Gunners in early November, Arsenal topped the table with their only defeat coming on the opening day of the season. Arsene Wenger's side held a two point lead over second placed Liverpool. Santi Carzorla gave Arsenal the lead on nineteen minutes. On the hour mark, a tremendous goal for Aaron Ramsey sealed a 2-0 victory for the Gunners.
When Arsenal headed to Merseyside for the return fixture at the start of February 2014, the Gunners were still top of the table, however Man City were just two points behind with a game in hand. Liverpool meanwhile were eight points behind the Gunners in fourth. Within twenty minutes however, the Premiership leaders found themselves four goals down, with Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Stirling and two for Martin Skirtel. Six minutes into the second half, Raheem Stirling added his second and Liverpool's fifth.
With just over twenty minutes to go, Mikel Arteta pulled one back for Arsenal, but ultimately could prevent a thumping 5-1 win for Liverpool. Arsenal went into the game fearing Luis Suarez, however Liverpool still managed to bag five goals.
The result changed the direction of the title race, as Arsenal faded out of contention, while Liverpool's challenge intensified. Two weeks later however, the two sides would meet again, this time in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Arsenal this time triumphed with a 2-1 victory secured by goals from Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski, while Steven Gerrard scored with a penalty for Liverpool.
With just three games to go in the title race, the Mersey Reds held a five point lead at the top of the table, though a defeat to Chelsea and blowing a three goal lead to draw 3-3 away to Crystal Palace. The title instead went to Man City, with Liverpool finishing two points behind in second. Arsenal finished five points behind Liverpool in fifth, though finished the season as FA Cup winners to bag their first trophy for nine years.
In 2014/15, Arsenal headed to Anfield to face Liverpool four days before Christmas. Liverpool were uanble to recreate their form of the previous season and stood tenth, while Arsenal had five points more in sixth. Ahead of half time, goals for Phillipe Coutinho and a rare goal from Mathieu Debuchy meant the two sides went in at half time on level terms. Oliver Giroud gave Arsenal the lead on sixty four minutes, which the Gunners held until the final minute when a header form Martin Skirtel earned Liverpool a 2-2 draw.
By the time of the return fixture in North London on Easter Saturday in 2015, Arsenal were third and seven points behind Premiership leaders Chelsea, enjoying a run of eleven wins from thirteen games since last meeting Liverpool in the league. Meanwhile, Liverpool were six points behind Arsenal in fifth place. Goals from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and a wonder goal for Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal a thumping 4-1 win, while Jordan Henderson would score from the penalty spot for Liverpool, as well as Emre Can receiving a red card six minutes from time.
Arsenal finished 2014/15 in third place and twelve points behind Premiership champions Chelsea, though retained the FA Cup. Liverpool meanwhile finished sixth. The two sides met again at the Emirates Stadium three games into the 2015/16 season in August. The two sides however played out a 0-0 draw.
By the time of the return fixture in mid-January 2016, Brendan Rodgers had been sacked by Liverpool after a poor start to the season and replaced by Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool stood in eighth place, while Arsenal topped the Premiership table with a two point lead over second place Leicester City. The two sides played out a fine game, with Roberto Firminho giving Liverpool the lead on nine minutes. Aaron Ramsey equalised five minutes later, before another from Firminho restored Liverpool's lead. Two goals for Olivier Giroud put Arsenal ahead ten minutes into the second half. The Gunners held the lead until the final minute when a Joe Allen equaliser earned Liverpool a 3-3 draw.
Arsenal finished 2015/16 in second place, trailing surprise Premiership Champions Leicester City by ten points. Liverpool meanwhile finished eighth. For the opening game of the 2016/17 season, Liverpool headed to North London to face Arsenal. Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead on the half hour, before goals for Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and two for Phillipe Coutinho gave Liverpool a three goal cushion eleven minutes into the second half. Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain and Calum Chambers pulled two back for the Gunners, but couln't prevent a 4-3 opening day away victory for Liverpool.
By the time of the return fixture at Anfield in early March, Arsenal stood fourth though Liverpool were one point behind with a game in hand. Goals for Roberto Firminho, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum meant a 3-1 win for Liverpool, while Danny Welbeck would be on target for Arsenal. On the final day of the season, Liverpool secured fourth spot at the expense of fifth place Arsenal by one point.
Three games into the 2017/18 season, Arsenal headed to Anfield to face Liverpool. Goals for Roberto Firminho, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a thumping 4-0 win.
And so on to Friday. Arsenal have failed to beat Liverpool over past five meetings. The Gunners have also conceded as many as fourteen goals to Liverpool since Jurgen Klopp took over as Liverpool boss. Just one point seperates the two sides in the Premiership table, however Arsene Wenger's side must step up a gear to reverse such a poor run of recent form against the Mersey Reds.
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*Published 22nd December 2017