Arshavin scores four as Liverpool held in thriller
The Russian wizard blew a hole in Liverpool's Premier League title ambitions with his extraordinary display in a classic game at Anfield
Liverpool 4 Arsenal 4. Andrei Arshavin showed last night why Arsenal spent most of the January transfer window so doggedly pursuing his signature after the Russian playmaker scored all four of their goals during a remarkable eight-goal thriller at Anfield that dealt Liverpool's Premier League title hopes a potentially fatal blow.
Again without their talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, Liverpool started at a frantic pace, with Yossi Benayoun in particular showing remarkable hunger in the first half hour of the game, which remained scoreless despite the home side coming close through Torres and Agger. However it was the visitors who took the lead with nine minutes to go before half time, when the irrepressible Arshavin hammered home a Fabregas cross.
The home side were soon back on level terms when Fernando Torres headed home just four minutes into the second half, before Israeli international Benayoun gave them the lead for the only time. Andrei Arshavin then struck two goals in three minutes to record his first Premier League hat-trick and retake the advantage for the Gunners.
A ludicrous final 20 minutes followed in which Torres and the Russian both scored again before Benayoun's second goal deep in injury time made it all square.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Kevin McCarra, the Guardian: "The sheer desire of Arsenal to compete was a great credit to Arsene Wenger and his squad. They have nothing at stake in these late days of their League campaign. Benitez did not savour this spectacle, but those who were enthralled are indebted to his men and to Arsenal. Excitement kept rippling around Anfield and the superb Benayoun acted throughout as if he anticipated being the key factor."
Oliver Kay, the Times: "When the dust finally starts to settle around Anfield this morning, after an extraordinary night when the old place was shaken to its foundations, it will be of little consolation to Rafael Benitez that his team have suddenly become English football’s great entertainers. Throwing off your shackles is one thing, but, for the second successive Tuesday, a pulsating 4-4 draw left Liverpool with the inescapable feeling that they had allowed a prize to slip through their fingers."
Martin Samuel, Daily Mail: "And that is why it is the best league in the world. Defending was always an overrated art form anyway. We only said those things about fascinating tactical battles and exquisite chess matches to hide our disappointment that we were not watching a 4-4 draw. Now one comes along almost every week and still some complain. To think there are people who want the scintillating ambition of the Premier League reined in. Muppets." ·
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