Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1

Jurgen Klopp ordered Liverpool’s fans to bring the noise and give Arsenal a “proper Anfield experience” at the place where their nerve has so often failed them in past. Arsenal have not won at Anfield since September 2012 and visits into this hothouse atmosphere are always used as a gauge for the Gunners’ title-winning temperament and credentials – or lack of them. It was in April, with Arsenal were cruising at 2-0, that Granit Xhaka unwisely infuriated Liverpool fans in a spat with Trent Alexander-Arnold, firing up Anfield to the extent that Mikel Arteta’s side ended up so ragged that they were fortunate to escape with a draw.

This was the moment the rot set in last season, the start of the late collapse that eventually saw the long-time leaders overhauled by eventual champions Manchester City. The same litmus test was being prepared here, especially after Klopp took it upon himself to criticise the Anfield atmosphere after Liverpool thrashed West Ham United 5-1 in the Carabao Cup quarter-final in midweek. To many observers, including this one, it appeared to be a rather confected ‘criticism’ specifically designed to whip Liverpool’s fans into a frenzy before Anfield’s biggest league game of the season against opponents who have cracked in this environment before. Liverpool manager Klopp’s words worked on one level as Anfield was at full volume, raucous and hostile before kick-off, but if this was also a ploy designed to put Arsenal to the test, they passed in an impressive demonstration of their growing maturity.

Arsenal and Arteta would have loved to get the win that would not only have been three points but arguably the biggest psychological lift they could get. This did not happen and the final scoreline of 1-1 will suit the pursuing new Club World Cup champions Manchester City more than the two teams on show here. City and Pep Guardiola would have been concerned that the victor here could steal a march while they celebrated their triumph in Saudi Arabia – but this was the result they would have wanted. Liverpool, justifiably, will argue they had the better of the chances as substitute Harvey Elliott grazed the outside of a post in the second half and Alexander-Arnold wasted the best chance to win the game when he thrashed a finish against the bar late on. They will also be puzzled how a clear handball by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard in the first half was missed by the officials and VAR.

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