Peep! Chris Kavanagh signals the end of the first half with a shrill blast on his whistle and both sets of players walk off. It’s been a decent game so far, really absorbing without veering into Christmas thriller territory. Arsenal took an early lead through Gabriel, before Liverpool restored parity courtesy of Mo Salah’s latest bit of individual brilliance. It’s all square at the break and the game is on a knife-edge going into the second half.
45+4 min: Now Havertz goes in the book for grappling Endo to the ground. It’s a harsh booking and it rules Havertz out of Arsenal’s next game, against West Ham on the 28 December. It’s half-time.
45+3 min: Endo Wataru is booked for a cynical tug on Martinelli that puts an abrupt end to a promising Arsenal counter-attack.
45+2 min: Trent Alexander-Arnold tries to pick out Salah again, with the latest in an apparently never-ending supply line of long diagonal balls from deep. On this occasion he overhits his pass and David Raya takes delivery of the ball.
45 min: Not renowned for his goalscoring prowess, Joe Gomes decides not to shoot despite being in a decent position on the edge of the Arsenal box and tries instead to pick out Gakpo with a cross to the far post. His delivery is intercepted and Arsenal clear.
43 min: Zinchenko plays the ball into space up the left flank for Martinelli to chase but the Arsenal winger is disposssessed by Ibrahim Konate as he cuts inside.
41 min: Saka is played in behind the Liverpool defence but is unable to take the ball around or past ALisson, as the Liverpool goalkeeper falls at his feet. The ball breaks to Gabriel Martinelli, who dithers over his shot before sending it wide of the left upright. Arsenal have missed two good scoring opportunities for the price of one, there.
40 min: Salah picks uyp another pass out to the right flank and drives inside. Once inside the Arsenal penalty area with Zinchenko backpedalling, he elects not to shoot and tries inside to slide the ball into path of Gakpo. It’s a rare bad decision from the Egyptian, who put too much weight on his pass.
38 min: Bukayo Saka is booked for a foul on Curtis Jones.
37 min: Saka takes an Arsenal corner, which Alisson punches clear, albeit unconvincingly. Gabriel Jesus takes up possession of the ball just outside the Liverpool penalty area and tries to curl it past the Liverpool goalkeeper but succeeds only in sending the ball into his arms.
35 min: Liverpool substitution: Tsimikas off, Joe Gomes on. Liverpool’s two specialist left-backs are now sidelined with shoulder injuries.
32 min: Bukayo Saka tackles Kostas Tsimikas, sending him skittering off the pitch and into the Liverpool technical area, where he clatters into his manager, Jurgen Klopp, knocking him to the ground. It looks like Tsimikas has done himself a mischief during the collision – it looks like he might have broken his collarbone or dislocated his shoulder.
31 min: That was a wonderful pass from Trent ALexander-Arnold to pick out Salah down by the byline but Zinchenko was beaten by the flight of the ball when he should have cut it out. The Ukrainian full-back compolunded his error by letting Salah cut inside him from the byline before unleashing his shot.
That’s a splendid equaliser. Mo Salah picks up a pin=-point long diagonal from Trent Alexander-Arnol near the byline, cuts inside Oleksandr Zinchenko to find himself in space and rifles the ball into the roof of the net from about eight yards out.
26 min: Looking at replays of that Odegaard handball just inside his own penalty area, you’d have to say that, slip or no slip, the Arsenal skipper got extremely lucky there in preventing Mo Salah getting control of the ball through judicious use of his left hand. It wasn’t the most egregious decision you’ll ever see but it looked pretty cut and dried to me.
25 min: Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas try to link up down the left touchline for Liverpool but Saka sticks out a leg to put the ball out of play and a stop to the Liverpool duo’s collective gallop.
22 min: Mo Salah runs on to a high, bouncing ball played down the right touchline but is once again unable to get past Zinchenko as he tries to cut inside.
19 min: Liverpool win a free-kick about 40 yards from the Arsenal goal for a Declan Rice foul on Mo Salah. Between them, Tsimikas and Alexander-Arnold make a pig’s ear of the delivery, although there’s a VAR check for a spot-ki ck after Martin Odegaard had slipped, gone to ground in his own penalty area and handled the ball with his left arm as he put it out to help him keep his balance. He gets away with it and it seems fair enough.
17 min: David Raya sends the ball long and Arsenal start pressing and probing around the Liverpool penalty area. Their attack breaks down when Bbukayo Saka is dispossessed by Kostas Tsimikas.
16 min: Liverpool have got a foothold in the game after their early setback and are forcing Arsenal on to the back foot. This match is shaping up to be something of a Christmas cracker.
14 min: An Endo cross from the left is headed backwards into the path of Mo Salah, who fails to capitalise having been left unmarked by Zinchenko.
13 min: Martinelli canters forwards through the centre before playing the ball into the path of Gabriel Jesus. His first-time strike sails over the bar.
11 min: Luis Diaz takes up possession on the left flank and cuts inside but is forced into traffic by Ben White, who won’t let him get the ball on to his right foot. He tries to cross from a tight angle but the ball is put out for a corner. Nothing comes of it.
10 min: Dias pings the ball out wide to Salah, who chests it down on the touchline. He’s unable to get past Oleksandr Zinchenko and is forced backwards.
8 min: Arsenal roared out of the traps from kick-off and are well worth their lead even in these very early stages. Liverpool have barely got a kick of the ball yet. They get one now, as Virgil van Dijk hoofs a dropped ball upfield. Luis Diaz gives his marker the slip but loses his footing as he tries to gallop into space on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area.
7 min: Arsenal won a fre-ekick on the inside left, which Odegaard sent into the penalty area. Having stolen a march on Konate, Gabriel rose largely unchallenged to head past Alisson, who had come for the ball, thought better of it and ended up getting caught in no-man’s land.
6 min: Arsenal endure a nervy wait as VAR checks for a possible offside. The goal stands!!!
Arsenal lead! Gabriel heads the visitors into an early lead, stunning the Kop into silence as he gets on the end of a Martin Odegaard free-kick.
2 min: Arsenal win an early corner after a Jesus shot takes a deflection off Ibrahim Konate. Bukayo Saka sends the ball towards the near post, where Jesus gets a clean header but flicks the ball into the arms of Alisson.
1 min: Seeking their first win at Anfield for over a decade, Arsenal get the ball rolling. Jesus does the honours, which seems fitting given the time of year.
Not long now: Led by referee Chris Kavanagh and his team of match officials, both sets of players make their way out on to the Anfield pitch and line up for the last of the pre-match formalities. It might be the festive season but this game is unlikely to be a turkey as Liverpool and Arsenal do battle for the Christmas No1 spot. Kick-off is just a couple of minutes away.
Today’s Premier League results
Dominic Solanke scored a hat-trick as Bournemouth put 10-man Nottingham Forest to the sword, while Lucas Paqueta provided his fifth and sixth assists in five games to help West Ham to victory over Manchester United. Andros Townsend scored the only goal of the game as Luton piled the pain on Newcastle, while their fellow strugglers Burnley also won at Fulham. Richarlison and Heung-min Son got the goals as Tottenham beat Everton, who had a Dominic Calvert-Lewin effort ruled out by VAR for a foul in the build-up.
West Ham 2-0 Manchester United
Fulham 0-2 Burnley
Luton Town 1-0 Newcastle United
Nottingham Forest 2-3 Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Everton
Liverpool v Arsenal (5.30pm GMT)
View the Premier League table
Will Liverpool fans bring the noise?
Displaying an endearingly naive understanding of just how difficult it is for fans of elite level clubs to exchange unwanted tickets, Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool fans who are not prepared to give their players their most full-blooded support stakes to give their tickets away to somebody else who would.
The Liverpool manager was unimpressed with the flat atmosphere at Anfield for Liverpool’s match against West Ham and was scathing in his criticism of the club’s supporters, no doubt in a bid to turn his team’s ground into something of a bear pit this weekend.
“I was not overly happy, I have to say, with the atmosphere behind me,” Klopp said in his post-match interview. “I ask people what do you want? We changed a lot of things, we dominated West Ham like crazy, we missed chances.
“If I was in the stand I would be on my toes, 1,000 per cent. I don’t know if the Man United game was that bad that we have to say, ‘sorry we didn’t smash them’. If it’s too much football in December, I don’t know, sorry we have to play it as well, but, if you’re not in the right shape, give your ticket to someone else.”
Jürgen Klopp has laid bare the punishing demands on players by revealing Liverpool will head into their top-of-the-table fixture with Arsenal having trained for only 135 minutes in 10 days. Andy Hunter reports …
Those teams: Mikel Arteta fields the same side that started against Brighton last Sunday, while both Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny have been deemed fit enough to take their places on the bench.
On a run of 11 games with a goal, Darwin Nunez drops to the Liverpool substitutes’ bench and is replaced by Cody Gakpo. As expected, Curtis Jones starts ahead of Ryan Gravenberch in Liverpool’s midfield.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Tsimikas, Szoboszlai, Endo, Jones, Salah, Gakpo, Diaz.
Subs: Gomez, Nunez, Elliott, Gravenberch, Clark, McConnell, Kelleher, Quansah, Bradley.
Arsenal: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Rice, Havertz, Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Martinelli.
Subs: Ramsdale, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Kiwior, Cedric, Trossard, Jorginho, Nelson, Elneny.
Diogo Jota, Stefan Bajcetic, Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Alexis Mac Allister remain sidelined for Liverpool, while emerging sScottish starlet Ben Doak has joined the club’s list of long-term lame and halt after undergoing surgery on his knee. Concerns about the fitness of Ryan Gravenberch have been greatly exaggerated, although the Dutch midfielder may have to settle for a spot on the bench following Curtis Jones’s excellent midweek performance against West Ham.
Arsenal have long-term injury issues of their own, with Jurrien Timber, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira all out with various ailments. Fringe midfielder Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny are also out, further depleting the Arsenal ranks.
A place at the Premier League summit is the prize up for grabs at Anfield, where either Liverpool or Arsenal will end the day guaranteed the Christmas No1 spot. Following their turgid draw with Manchester United last weekend, Liverpool swatted West Ham aside in midweek to book their place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals and go into their third consecutive home game against an Arsenal side who are one point and two places ahead of them courtesy of their win against Brighton last Sunday.
Arsenal’s recent record at Anfield is not good, the League leaders having failed to win on any of their 13 visits in all competitions in just over a decade. Their last win at Anfield came in September 2012, a game Mikel Arteta may remember fondly as he was playing in it. The Arsenal boss will have to make do with a watching brief from his technical area this evening once the game kicks off at 5.30pm (GMT).