Match Report by Robbie Amins at talklfc
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Young Neil Mellor scored with a venomous shot in injury time to give the Reds all three points over Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. It was a goal that many of those who regularly watch Reserves and Academy matches for the last few years had come to expect from him. His goal meant the Gunners remain five points behind Barclays Premiership leaders Chelsea.
Xabi Alonso's wonderful goal had The Reds in a merited first half advantage before Patrick Vieira levelled things up with a well-worked qualiser. Vieira's pathetic attempt at a dive was laughable to say the least and the Arsenal skipper was very lucky to avoid yet another red card in his career before Mellor unleashed a venemous strike in the final seconds of the match to further dent The Gunners' title aspirations.
The only dreams coming true for Arsenal right now are bad ones. Two defeats in 55 matches may not sound like a crisis, but six points from 18 can be regarded as a modest return indeed. In a game of stunning goals, they negated Xabi Alonso's opener through Patrick Vieira, but having otherwise failed to trouble Chris Kirkland, they could hardly argue with Mellor's winner.
Playing his first home match since early September, Gerrard was denied a penalty after three minutes when Kolo Touré brought him down. He was inevitably behind the first goal following a move that started when Steve Finnan's long diagonal pass was headed by Harry Kewell to Gerrard, whose slide rule pass into the stride of Alonso was followed by a drive from 18 yards that tore beyond Lehmann. Anfield exploded, as much in awe that a side bereft of firepower could dismantle the champions with such clinical brilliance as in joy.
By deploying three men just behind Mellor, Rafa Benitez produced a game-plan that relentlessly pressed Arsenal while smothering them in mid-field, even though Florent Sinama-Pongolle was largely anonymous and Kewell simply awful.
Arsenal drew level soon after the break with their first shot on target. A flurry of short, first-time passes saw the ball worked from Lauren to Vieira to Thierry Henry and back to Vieira, whose nonchalant finish seemed to announce the resumption of business as usual.
A respectable point looked within their grasp as Kirkland pumped the ball forward. Kewell, who otherwise had a wretched game, again played a part by jumping with Sol Campbell. The ball broke to Mellor, who still had the energy, after so much lung-bursting endeavour, to force his way into Anfield folklore. He then accepted the praise of a delirious Kop with arms out-stretched and affection assured.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Kirkland; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise; Xabi Alonso, Hamann; Sinama-Pongolle (Nunez, 70), Gerrard, Kewell; Mellor.
Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Diao, Biscan, Warnock.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Touré, Campbell, Cole; Ljungberg, Vieira, Fabregas, Pires; Reyes (Van Persie, 68), Henry.
Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Flamini, Senderos, Hoyte.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
A last minute wonder strike from Neil Mellor gave Liverpool a deserved 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield yesterday. What a goal that was to seal the big match...
by Robbie Amins' for talklfc
Chris' handling was good yet again. Came out very well to pluck out ball from the air. Probably dived in too early before Vieira equalised but to be fair to him, in those one-on-one situations, the keeper will always find it difficult.
Steve looks more comfortable than the absent Josemi does in the right back position. He coped well with the threat at Arsenal's left flank, Robert Pires and he wasn't restricted to just defending. He overlapped well and provided an extra attacking option down the right.
Carra did well. He was given the run around by Thierry Henry at Highbury the last time these two sides met but this time he did so well that Henry's strike partner had to be substituted.
Sammi was always going to be a threat at set-pieces with Arsenal struggling with high balls played into their box. Unfortunately, he couldn't get one of those hard headers on target. Defensively, he was his usual composed self and was always cool under pressure.
John Arne Riise
To be honest, John's runs down Liverpool's left flank were more threatening than the off-colour Kewell's. He used his speed to good effect and recovered with ease when Arsenal tried to counter-attack.
Flo's finishing was never the best and Rafa Benitez probably decided to use his pace to trouble Ashley Cole. He never really did threaten but he worked hard and tried his best before he was eventually replace by Antonio Nunez.
Didi's position in the team was debated before the match with Xabi Alonso rested in midweek and Igor Biscan doing well whenever he featured this season. It was thought that the German midfielder would be the one sitting on the bench this time round but he started the match and came in with some vital interceptions. Tested Lehmann with a shot from distance in the second half.
Xabi's passing wasn't as accurate as usual but what a great move that was finished by the Spaniard. Who said Alonso and Gerrard can't play together? From Gerrard's clever pass, Xabi finished with a side-footer that gave Jens Lehmann no chance. His first Premiership goal at Anfield and one to be remembered.
Harry was disappointing again yesterday. Despite signs of improvement in the last few weeks, he looked lost yet again and was not sure of what he was going to do with the ball. Many times he slowed down the pace of Liverpool's game by dallying too much when in possession.
Stevie G. again showed why he is always going to be linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea. The world-class midfielder reduced Patrick Vieira to a virtual spectator in the first half and was running the show for Liverpool. What a superb ball that was to give Xabi Alonso the chance to open the scoring...
The young man finally got what he deserved. Many said that he wasn't good enough for Liverpool but to be fair to him, many of us still don't know whether he can make it here. He thrives on chances being made for him and he is an out-and-out striker. That goal he scored will be remembered for ages and the Mellor family will always look back and mention that one to generations to come....
The mystery man finally showed up. Even though he didn't make a significant impact, fans would be happy to know that his injury problems are finally over.
Man of the Match:- Steven Gerrard