Arsenal came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with Liverpool that proves they are on the right track to secure a return to the Champions League
While no one inside the ground was celebrating, Gunners boss Unai Emery could at least spend the rest of his birthday reflecting on a promising performance from his team.
Three months and 14 undefeated matches on from Arsenal’s back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of the season, Emery’s side showed progress and potential.
Arsenal had been behind within 15 minutes in both of those early losses to City and Chelsea and a reputation for slow starts has stuck.
They’d have ranked 17th in the Premier League if the full-time whistle came after 45 minutes in the Premier League this season, while Liverpool had the best record at the break, going into this weekend.
But Emery’s men showed intent from the off against their table-topping guests, bringing an intensity to the match which would see them finish having out-run and out-sprinted a Liverpool team famed for their hard work.
Liverpool were a threat, undoubtedly. Roberto Firmino hit the woodwork and Sadio Mane was wrongly flagged offside for the follow-up, while Virgil van Dijk’s looped header kissed the post in first-half stoppage time.
But in between, Arsenal took the game to their below-par visitors, firing off nine shots, the most Klopp’s side had faced in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since February 2017.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed wide, Alexandre Lacazette had an effort rightly ruled out and then flashed across the face of goal as the Gunners searched for a first-half score they’ve found so hard to come by this season.
It eluded them once more, but their display was an encouraging one.