79 min: Holding sprays a long pass down the right for Saka, but the young man looks tired and is easily brushed off the ball by Robertson. “Minami-YES,” quips Peter Oh, because somebody had to.
77 min: Liverpool are applying pressure, Arsenal beginning to tire. Firmino spins and looks to shoot. Not quite. Minamino nearly bustles his way free on the left. Not quite. Minamino, now on the right, goes over under pressure from Elneny, but doesn’t appeal for a penalty.
75 min: There was a VAR check for handball, as Minamino and Salah flicked the ball between each other. It might have hit a hand in the middle of a tangle of limbs … but it belonged to Cedric. The goal stands.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (Minamino 73)
Salah sashays along the front of the Arsenal box, right to left. He’s looking for space to shoot, but instead flicks to Minamino. There’s not much space as the pair barge into the box down the left channel. The ball breaks to Minamino, who opens his body and slots his first Liverpool goal into the bottom right!
71 min: Robertson swings it in. Arsenal half clear. Firmino and Mane combine down the left, but the final ball is lacking. Arsenal are defending with great resilience.
70 min: Cedric barges into the back of Minamino, and this is a free kick on the left, 25 yards out. Robertson swings it in, and Tierney is forced to head over his own bar for a corner.
69 min: Saka drops a shoulder to edge past Wijnaldum on the right. He enters the box and shoots. It’s going wide, but only just, and Alisson can’t take the chance, catching and carrying over the line for a corner. The resulting set piece is a waste of everyone’s time.
68 min: A little pocket of space for Minamino, 25 yards out. He tries to whip a shot into the top left, but it’s an easy pick for Martinez.
67 min: Liverpool have had 80% of possession during the last five minutes. Martinez has had nothing to do.
66 min: Nketiah takes one in the chest from a high-kicking Keita. The collision look accidental enough, and there’s no card. Nketiah is up again quickly enough.
65 min: Mane threatens to break clear down the right, but Maitland-Niles sticks to his task and holds his line brilliantly. Mane can’t barge through.
64 min: The game’s slowed right down. Arsenal are more than happy with this state of affairs. Liverpool not so much, but they’re having trouble raising their tempo.
62 min: Arsenal are sitting back, but Liverpool can’t get anything going in the final third. The FA Cup holders are comfortable enough at the minute.
60 min: Keita’s first touch: a 30-yard belt at goal. It’s always flying wide right. But it’s a statement of intent, if nothing else.
59 min: The admin frenzy continues as Liverpool make a double swap. Off go Milner and Williams, on come Minamino and Keita. Gomez will move over to right back, Fabinho partnering Van Dijk in the middle.
57 min: Milner picks up the first booking of the day, sliding in hysterically on Nketiah. He can’t complain.
56 min: Martinez is finally forced into action! Robertson rakes a long pass down the left. Mane gets in ahead of Holding, and enters the box, one on one with the keeper. But he can’t quite sort his feet out, and when he eventually tries to chip the ball home, the keeper smothers. Fine goalkeeping, though he should never have been allowed to make the save.
55 min: Van Dijk gifts possession to Aubameyang, who tries to release Saka down the right. Robertson tracks back to snuff out the danger.
54 min: Fabinho wins a corner off Maitland-Niles down the right. Milner takes, and finds Van Dijk at the far post, but Elneny and Holding make it hard for the Liverpool man, who can only softly eyebrow the ball wide left under extreme pressure. Martinez hasn’t had a save to make.
52 min: Aubameyang is found in space down the left. He swings to the far post, where Saka waits to knock home. But for once Aubameyang’s radar is wonky. The ball sails harmlessly away and Liverpool breathe again. This doesn’t look like it’s going to end 1-0, but who scores next?
51 min: Saka makes good down the right and lays off for Maitland-Niles, who leans back and clears the bar with ease. Liverpool go up the other end, Firmino cutting in from the left and trying to replicate Aubameyang’s goal, his effort sailing wide right.
49 min: Gomez slides a pass down the middle, but Mane and Firmino can’t execute the one-two they’re going for. Aubameyang threatens to counter down the left, but Gomez has stayed alert and wins the footrace.
47 min: Arsenal stroke it around the back confidently enough. Eventually Liverpool get a go. Williams blooters long, and Firmino nearly gets the better of Luiz under the high ball. Not quite, but for a second, Arsenal hearts were in mouths.
Half-time entertainment. Hannah Jane Parkinson anticipates the new season by running the rule over all the new shirts.
HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool
The Gunners started slowly, but go into the break deservedly leading. It’s not happened for Liverpool up front.
45 min: Saka whistles a ball in from the left. It rolls invitingly through the six-yard box, but Nketiah hasn’t gambled and Liverpool get away with it. There will be one added minute.
43 min: Saka’s corner is a non-event. In lieu of action, here’s Matt Dony: “Right. First game of the season, and I’m already annoyed. The referee, the commentary team and Peter Walton all agree that ‘There wasn’t enough contact for Mane to go down.’ Can anyone point out the rule that says there has to be enough contact to knock someone down? If you pull someone back, even slightly, while making no effort to play the ball, how is it not a foul? And this isn’t one-eyed Liverpool bias; I get just as annoyed when Liverpool players do it. Skrtel essentially built his whole game around it, and it infuriated me every time. Ah, I hate football.”
42 min: Maitland-Niles stands one up from the left, momentarily confusing Alisson, but Milner ushers it away from a throw. Arsenal work it around to the left again, allowing Tierney to have a whack. The shot balloons off Gomez and out for a corner.
40 min: One corner leads to another. And another. Arsenal are struggling to get out. From the third, Robertson curls delightfully from the left. Mane eyebrows it gently. At the far post, Van Dijk mistimes his attempt at trundling home, and the ball sails harmlessly out of play for a throw. Robertson will be wondering how he’s not got an assist to his name. On another day, he could have had two or three.
39 min: Salah threads a stunning diagonal pass through a small gap in the Arsenal defence to Robertson on the left. His low fizzer is poked out for a corner by Bellerin. Just as well, for red (and teal) shirts were lined up behind him.
38 min: Arsenal stroke it around the back a bit in the old George Graham style. A smart move, with Liverpool having built up a little momentum.
36 min: Gomez hoicks an extremely ambitious shot over the bar from distance. No need for this sort of traffic-on-North-Circular-bothering desperation yet.
35 min: It’s not quite happening for Liverpool. Mane does extremely well to keep the ball in down the left and tiptoes along the tightrope. Robertson joins in and whips another fine ball through the six-yard box. Salah can’t reach it with his big toe.
33 min: More good work from Arsenal down the left flank, and the ball ends up at the feet of Nketiah, just inside the Liverpool box. He tries to sort his feet out, but can’t fix them in time, and Van Dijk grabs the opportunity to intercept and clear.
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