Arsenal vs Liverpool Classic Clash: December 23, 2017

Arsenal and Liverpool will take on each other in a potential ‘title’ defining contest as we look back at one classic clash between the pair in December 2017 at the Emirates.

Back in December, when Arsenal came out of Anfield with a draw, the result felt like it benefitted the Gunners more than Liverpool. Manchester United had set the trend of getting something out of that venue after their surprise goalless draw at Anfield.

However, when Arsenal did that, it was a crucial moment in the title race, considering Liverpool and the Gunners were considered outright runners for the big prize. Manchester City, then taking on the world at the Club World Cup, have climbed back into the reckoning and now poses a big threat to both the Red teams.

Arsenal, meanwhile, did not follow up on that draw very well, as they lost their next two games to West Ham United and Fulham. Those results have pinned them five points behind current leader Liverpool, putting more pressure on Mikel Arteta’s side heading into the big game against the Merseysiders on Sunday.

Liverpool have been more vital in recent weeks, churning out results, and their big win over Chelsea might be seen as a statement of intent. The Reds have lived up to their expectations as title contenders, as a victory over Arsenal on Sunday will allow them to take an unassailable lead over their title rivals.

However, the title race has a long way to go and certainly won’t come to a conclusion on Sunday, irrespective of which way the result goes. The coming weeks will certainly filter out those who are not realistically in the chase, with Aston Villa showing cracks in their pursuit of the big prize.

In any case, as we focus on Arsenal’s big night at the Emirates when hosting Liverpool, we will look at a classic Premier League encounter between the two sides. We have chosen a momentous clash at the Emirates in Arsene Wenger’s last season here, which Martin Tyler described as a ‘Winter Wonderland’.

Laying the Setting

Liverpool and Arsenal have had solid seasons so far, but there are both positives and negatives for either in the things they have achieved. The Merseysiders have stayed strong in all competitions so far, and at the end of the month, they will contest the League Cup final against Chelsea. They are very much alive on other fronts.

In the UEFA Europa League, they are vying for the big prize, while they are very much alive in the FA Cup as well. In all, leading the Premier League gives them enough impetus to want to make this one of the best seasons in their history, which might only miss the gloss of the Champions League.

In any case, Liverpool have a strong team with plenty of depth to handle all four competitions in full force. They will also be pumped after Jurgen Klopp’s announcement to leave the club following the season’s conclusion, making this like the ‘Last Dance’ of sorts.

As for Arsenal, they have already exited both domestic competitions as things stand, suffering dismal defeats to West Ham United in the EFL Cup and to Liverpool in the FA Cup at the Emirates. The Gunners have already been put to the test in a theory that the Merseysiders are weaker without talisman Mohamed Salah, something Klopp’s men have shown is not the case.

Arsenal are in the mix for the title challenge, and they have been one of the best defensive sides, not only in terms of conceding goals but also allowing the opposition to create chances. Arsenal have struggled for goals at times, but they appear to be back in their groove following two wins on the bounce against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.

Moreover, Arsenal are expected to give their all in the Champions League, as going far in the competition would make their season a successful one. However, for now, Mikel Arteta will focus on the Premier League and the clash on Sunday, which could potentially bring them firmly in the race or place them as outsiders for the time being.

What Happened in Arsenal vs Liverpool on December 23, 2017?

Arsenal fans barely saw the game for what it was, as most expected Liverpool to hand them another beating, considering they smashed the Gunners 4-0 in the reverse fixture earlier that season. The Merseysiders arrived at the Emirates high on confidence and eager to beat their North London rivals, who were not realistically competing for anything of importance then.

Liverpool took a brilliant 2-0 lead on either side of half-time, with Philippe Coutinho and Salah giving them the advantage. With Klopp jumping on the touchline with dreams of smashing more goals past Arsenal’s defence, little did he envisage the beast behind the calm figure of Wenger standing in the opposition areas.

Alexis Sanchez’s stooping header got a goal back for the Gunners in the 56th minute, which may have filled the fans with some hope. Liverpool had already garnered a reputation of being a team that latched on to opposition mistakes and punished them. But the tide had changed in this clash.

Three minutes after Sanchez’s goal, Granit Xhaka let one fly from outside the area, which Simon Mignolet could not keep out, allowing the Gunners to level the scores. Mesut Ozil then played a one-two with Alexandre Lacazette to score a third two minutes after that Xhaka strike.

That goal let the Emirates erupt like never before, prompting Matin Tyler to utter the famous ‘Winter Wonderland’ quote from the commentary box. However, Arsenal have seen a prominent villain in Roberto Firmino, who has always found a way to score past the Gunners and did so here to level the score. The game ended 3-3, but the moments in this one will help everyone remember it for a long time to come.

The Aftermath

The 2017/18 season had mixed feelings for both these sides. Arsenal huffed and puffed throughout the campaign without putting any real challenge either for the title or the top four race. Along with Chelsea, they finished outside of the top four and were made to live with another campaign in the Europa League.

It was also their first season in the second-tier European competition, but they lost out to Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final stage. However, the big news in the coming months after that Emirates clash with Liverpool came from Wenger, who announced he would be stepping down after 22 years at the helm.

As for Liverpool, they were still a team in transition, as Jurgen Klopp continued to get a grip on proceedings. They did not win anything in terms of trophies but did reach the Champions League final, where they lost out to eventual Champions Real Madrid.

They did come fourth and kept their place in the Champions League for next season, which they would end up winning for the first time since that infamous night in Istanbul in 2005. Two years later, they would also end up winning the Premier League. Still, that 2017/18 season will be remembered for Manchester City’s ‘Centurions’ as Pep Guardiola’s side achieved 100 points to take the league title back to Manchester.

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