Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/30/13
Ajax
Liverpool let a two-goal advantage slip as it was held to an entertaining 2-2 draw by Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday evening. Luis Suarez put the Reds ahead inside five minutes when he capitalized on a goal-mouth scramble to turn the ball into an unguarded net. Jordan Henderson’s solo goal doubled Liverpool’s advantage midway through the second half, but a quick-fire Gunners double leveled up the scoreline, as Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott netted for the hosts. The Reds were forced to endure some nervy moments as the game drew to a conclusion, but a combination of some dogged defending and excellent goalkeeping from Pepe Reina ensured they returned to Merseyside with a point. The pregame team news confirmed seven changes for Liverpool from the side that slipped to a shock FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Oldham on Sunday. Reina, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing all returned to the starting XI at the Emirates. New signing Philippe Coutinho was ineligible to take part after completing his transfer from Inter Milan earlier on Wednesday. Brendan Rodgers had called on his players to conjure up a response to their Boundary Park disappointment — and the Reds could not have wished for a better start in north London. Bacary Sagna’s slip allowed Johnson to ghost into the box and cross for Daniel Sturridge. His close-range strike was repelled by the body of Wojciech Szczesny but fell for Henderson, who squared for Suarez to sweep home via the aid of a deflection. Arsenal almost served up an instant riposte, but Walcott was left clutching his head in his hands after a world-class save from Reina denied his drive. Back to the other end and Suarez’s stunning outside-of-the-foot pass set Sturridge clear, but his volley bounced the wrong side of the upright before Giroud sliced wide from the edge of the Reds’ box. Soon after, Walcott was again frustrated by the acrobatics of Reina, with the Spain custodian this time flinging himself across goal to tip a curler around the post. Next, Agger rose highest to head a Gerrard corner downwards, but Lukas Podolski was able to hack the ball off the line. With just seconds remaining of the first half, Henderson went close to extending Liverpool’s lead when he beat Szczesny to Downing’s through-ball. However, his intelligent lob over the stranded ‘keeper landed on the roof of the net. The second period continued in the same entertaining fashion as the first. Walcott again threatened, stealing in ahead of Johnson to head narrowly over the bar 10 minutes after the restart. Arsenal had certainly started the more dominant of the two teams following the interval, but they were left stunned just after the hour when Henderson doubled the visitors’ advantage. Spinning his way into the box, the midfielder squirmed beyond four home defenders before making the most of a ricochet to tap into an empty net. However, two goals in as many minutes ensured Liverpool’s joy was short lived. First, Giroud nodded home a Podolski free-kick unmarked to reduce the deficit before Walcott beat Reina with a fierce angled drive to level up the contest and leave the Reds rocking. It was Arsenal who finished the stronger, but Liverpool held on for a point — though Suarez could have won it at the death when only a fine stop from Szczesny denied him a winner. Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Pepe Reina
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