Liverpool maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season as they played out a thrilling goalless draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium. In a game littered with chances, brilliant goalkeeping and defensive mistakes, it was almost beyond belief that neither side could carve out a victory and deliver an early psychological blow among the contenders at the top of the table. Liverpool dominated the first half but found Petr Cech in magnificent form as the former Chelsea goalkeeper saved miraculously from Christian Benteke and turned Philippe Coutinho’s shot on to a post.
Coutinho also struck the bar in the third minute – and while Arsenal’s opportunities were few, they were furious that Aaron Ramsey’s early strike was ruled out for offside. Arsenal regrouped and dominated much of the second half, Alexis Sanchez hitting the post and Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet producing a fine reflex save from Olivier Giroud. When Arsenal bought Cech for £10m from Chelsea in June, the instant wisdom was that his presence alone could be worth an extra 10 points to the Gunners. Time will tell, but this was the night when the 33-year-old showed just how important a signing he could be as the Gunners try finally to mount a serious Premier League title challenge. He spread himself brilliantly to turn away Benteke’s close-range effort when it seemed certain the Belgium striker would score, then showed he still retains the old athleticism to stretch and tip Coutinho’s curling shot against an upright. If any Arsenal fans harboured doubts about his purchase, this was a display to dispel them.
Arsenal showed great spirit to recover from a first half in which their defending was horrendous to have the better of the second. It should be placed in context by the fact they were robbed of their first-choice central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker through illness and Laurent Koscielny with a back injury. But this game and the results of the 1st 3 games have shown me that we won’t be ready to challenge for the league this year or the next unless things change. And they have to change a lot!