Liverpool and Arsenal faced each other in an intense battle at Anfield and ended the game by sharing the spoils.
Both sides performed brilliantly and it never looked like either one dominated the other entirely. It was yet another classic show from the two title hopefuls. However, the draw meant that Arsenal headed into Christmas atop of the table.
Mikel Arteta oversaw a different game than the usual, presumably specially made tactics to gain control against Liverpool. And to his delight, it worked well enough to walk away from Anfield with a point.
Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal: 3 takeaways from thrilling Anfield draw
Here are three takeaways from Saturday's draw.
1. Momentum awarded goals
Control is a key factor in any game. However, when you come up against teams like Liverpool, who constantly pressure their opponents, it becomes especially important to command the game.
As mentioned before, both teams were level and none ever had full control of the game.
However, the main takeaway here is Arteta’s different tactical approach to the game. He had his men approach the game more securely, that is, not playing direct but rather compact and safe.
This awarded the Gunners control in key moments and Declan Rice deserves a special mention.
2. Zinchenko’s lacklustre defending is a concern
Oleksandr Zinchenko isn’t known for his defensive abilities. It is his technical ability that makes him vital to his side. However, when you go up against a player like Mohamed Salah, you have to be at the top of your defensive game.
Arteta’s secure tactical approach could have also been made to help Zinchenko not get isolated with Salah. However, his poor defensive abilities were exposed and it resulted in the north London side losing control of the game on several occasions.
Arteta’s strategic approach still wasn’t enough to shield his woeful defensive abilities. It could also explain the Spanish manager's desire to sign another full-back in January. This is a game where Jurrien Timber would have been a very useful outlet for the Gunners.
3. Declan Rice made a massive difference
It is no secret how important Declan Rice is for Arsenal. Rice was one of the biggest difference makers, he stayed sharp throughout the game and never looked like he was going to place a foot wrong.
Yesterday highlighted exactly how crucial of an influence the 24-year-old is. He ended the game with a 100% tackle success rate and had eight clearances.
Not only did his defensive actions prevent the opposition from scoring but he also ensured that his side had control of the game. To do that in Anfield is something special and the Englishman certainly proved his worth yet again.
His performance yesterday was simply top class and without him this game would have surely had a different outcome. Each passing game proves that he is possibly the best defensive midfielder (#6) in the world.