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Barclays Premier League, Saturday 3rd March 2012, Anfield, 20:00pm

Liverpool FC 1-2 Arsenal

Referee: Mark Halsey   H-T: 1-1   Att: 44,922 

Match Report

Robin Van Persie's injury-time goal meant Liverpool suffered a harsh 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

Dirk Kuyt missed an early penalty for the Reds, but the hosts took the lead on 23 minutes when Laurent Koscielny turned Jordan Henderson's cross into his own net.

The Gunners equalised just after the half-hour mark against the run of play, with Van Persie heading a Bacary Sagna cross beyond Pepe Reina from close range.

Liverpool continued to dominate throughout the second half, but Van Persie netted his second with a clinical volley in the 92nd minute to claim three points for the visitors.

Kenny Dalglish's side went into the lunchtime contest aiming to build upon last Sunday's Carling Cup final success by bolstering their top-four hopes against the current occupants of the position, Arsenal, who began the day seven points ahead having played a game more.

Prior to kick-off, the League Cup was held aloft on the Anfield pitch by Steven Gerrard, who missed the contest due to the injury he sustained while on international duty in midweek.

Also absent were Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, meaning recalls for Jamie Carragher and Martin Kelly, as well as cup final hero Kuyt.

Liverpool began brightly, but after Kelly had flashed an early header wide from Charlie Adam's corner, Reina needed to be alert to make a smart stop to thwart Theo Walcott's angled drive.

Back came the hosts, and Wojciech Szczesny was forced to dart from his line quickly in order to prevent Luis Suarez bearing down on goal. The 'keeper's headed clearance was eventually worked to Kuyt, who drilled over from 20 yards.

The Reds had enjoyed the stronger opening to the game and on 19 minutes they were presented with an opportunity to break the deadlock from the penalty spot.

An intricate one-two between Suarez and Kuyt inside a crowded box resulted in the former being sent crashing to the turf by a challenge from Szczesny.

It was Kuyt who stepped up, but the Dutchman saw his kick repelled by the Gunners' stopper - and the No.18 was unable to net with the follow up.

But Liverpool didn't have to wait long to get the goal they thoroughly deserved.

With 23 minutes on the clock, a speedy counter-attack released Henderson surging into space down the right, and the midfielder's low cross was turned into his own net by Koscielny from inside the six-yard box.

The Reds almost doubled their advantage within two minutes when another raid on the Arsenal rearguard presented Henderson with a shooting chance inside the box. His low shot was turned away by the fingertips of Szczesny and Suarez could only cannon the rebound against the post from a tight angle.

The Gunners had rarely looked like troubling Reina, but they drew themselves level on 31 minutes. Sagna swung in a deep cross from the right touchline and Van Persie nodded into the top corner to restore parity.

Liverpool rallied, but Szczesny was to come to Arsenal's rescue again six minutes before half-time. This time the No.13 palmed a low Suarez effort around the base of the post after the striker had slalomed his way past four defenders in the box. Skrtel headed the resulting corner over.

In first-half stoppage-time, Kuyt went close to regaining the lead for the Reds but his sliding effort from Adam's left-wing delivery agonisingly rolled against the post allowing Arsenal to breathe a sigh of relief as they headed down the tunnel on level terms.

Liverpool picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, and Suarez struck the side netting before the game was stopped for several minutes following a head injury to Mikel Arteta, who needed oxygen as he was carried from the pitch.

When play resumed, only a brave block from Szczesny stopped Kelly latching onto Skrtel's knock down at a corner.

The England U21 international then perhaps should have scored on 69 minutes when Kuyt's ball across the face of the Arsenal goal picked him out at the back post, but the defender could not adjust his feet quickly enough to convert.

Much like the first half, Liverpool were firmly in control - but Arsenal players were left clutching their heads in their hands after witnessing Reina produce a reflex save to deny Walcott's deflected 12-yard drive.

It only provided brief respite for the Gunners, and Downing had Szczesny scrambling across his line with a volley that evaded the far post.

However, Van Persie struck a volley in injury time to hand all three points to Arsenal in a result that was harsh on Liverpool.

Team Line-Up's
Liverpool Arsenal
Pepe Reina Wojciech Szczesny
Martin Kelly Bacary Sagna
Martin Skrtel Kieran Gibbs
Jamie Carragher Yellow - Thomas Vermaelen
Jose Enrique Laurent Koscielny
Jordan Henderson Mikel Arteta
Jay Spearing Alex Song
Charlie Adam Theo Walcott
Stewart Downing Thomas Rosicky
Dirk Kuyt - Missed Penalty Yossi Benayoun
Luis Suarez Goal 2 - Robin Van Persie
Substitutes Substitutes
Alexander Doni Lukasz Fabianski
Craig Bellamy Vassiriki Diaby
Jonjo Shelvey Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Sebastian Coates Carl Jenkinson
Jon Flanagan Yao Gervinho
Maxi Rodriguez Marouane Chamakh
Andy Carroll Ignasi Miquel
Substitutions
Vassiriki Diaby for Mikel Arteta 52'
Yao Gervinho for Yossi Benayoun 74'
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Vassiriki Diaby 81'
Craig Bellamy for Stewart Downing 88'
Andy Carroll for Jay Spearing 94'
Goals
Laurent Koscielny 24' OG Robin Van Persie 31'
Robin Van Persie 93'
Yellow Cards
Thomas Vermaelen 64'
Red Cards
Referee
Mark Halsey
Attendance
44,922
LFC Player Ratings
Pepe Reina
6/10
Martin Kelly
6/10
Martin Skrtel
7/10
Jamie Carragher
6/10
Jose Enrique
6/10
Jordan Henderson
6/10
Jay Spearing
7/10
Charlie Adam
6/10
Stewart Downing
6/10
Dirk Kuyt
6/10
Luis Suarez
8/10
Substitutes
Alexander Doni
DNP
Craig Bellamy
5/10
Jonjo Shelvey
DNP
Sebastian Coates
DNP
Jon Flanagan
DNP
Maxi Rodriguez
DNP
Andy Carroll
5/10
Referee
Mark Halsey
7/10

Match Stats

Liverpool   Arsenal
54% Possession 46%
12 Shots On 10
4 Shots Off 7
12 Corners 0
11 Fouls 9
0 Yellow 1
0 Red 0


Head to Head - Arsenal