What was Granit Xhaka thinking?! Winners & losers as Roberto Firmino and Liverpool dent Arsenal's Premier League title hopes

The Reds and the Gunners served up a classic at Anfield, but assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis could find himself in hot water with the FA

Anfield delivered yet again as Liverpool and Arsenal served up a Premier League classic, one which ultimately left both sides upbeat yet neither fully satisfied.

The Gunners may, in the cold light of day, reflect on a 2-2 draw as a good result given their recent travails on Merseyside, but having led 2-0 inside 28 minutes, Mikel Arteta's side may well come to rue the two points which slipped from their grasp here. Manchester City will have celebrated this result, for sure.

Liverpool, meanwhile, can take heart from the rousing nature of their fightback, and just as importantly the aggression, commitment and desire shown from a seemingly hopeless position. Roberto Firmino's late header blew the roof off the Kop, and Jurgen Klopp's side had more than enough chances to have won the game in the end.

It won't be enough to revive their flagging hopes of a top-four finish, but it at least offers encouragement that there is still a team in there somewhere, despite their struggles.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Anfield...

  1. WINNER: Roberto Firmino

    WINNER: Roberto Firmino

    There could not have been a more popular hero, as far as Anfield was concerned.

    These may be Roberto Firmino's final days at Liverpool, but he's determined to leave his adoring public with something to remember him by, isn't he?

    Having lit the place up with his goal in the demolition of Manchester United, the Brazilian blew the roof off this famous old stadium with his equaliser here, three minutes from time.

    Firmino owes a debt of gratitude to Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose superb run and cross from the right gave him the opportunity, but make no mistake - this was his moment.

    He loves playing against Arsenal. In fact, no player in Premier League history has more non-penalty goals against the Gunners than he does. This was his 10th of those, and his 11th in total. It may 'only' have been an equaliser, but you'd never have known it from the noise.

  2. LOSER: Granit Xhaka

    LOSER: Granit Xhaka

    Oh Granit, what were you thinking?! Did you not learn anything from last season?!

    With 35 minutes gone here, Arsenal were cruising. Two up through the Gabriels, Martinelli and Jesus, the league leaders were threatening to run amok. Anfield, loud before kick off, was beginning to turn against its own players, baffled by their sloppiness and sluggishness.

    Xhaka, as Arteta had done in this fixture last November, changed all that. Angered by the failure of referee Paul Tierney to award him a free kick after a tangle with Ibrahima Konate, the Swiss midfielder charged after the man with the ball, Trent Alexander-Arnold, leaving a bit on the Liverpool full-back.

    Alexander-Arnold reacted, a tussle ensued and both were booked. But in an instant, Anfield switched into game mode, and Liverpool responded accordingly. It was a team, and a stadium, transformed thereafter, as the Reds tore into a side that had made them look like mugs to begin with.

    Xhaka was lucky to avoid a second yellow card after taking out Firmino late on, but the one he did get may well have cost Arsenal the points here. For an experienced player, it was a naive move.

    Still, at least Arteta can't be too angry with him. After all, he knows as well as anyone what Anfield can do to you if you lose your cool.

  3. WINNER: Aaron Ramsdale

    WINNER: Aaron Ramsdale

    Arsenal will surely this is two points dropped, but were it not for their goalkeeper then it might have been even worse.

    Ramsdale was the Gunners' hero in the end, saving twice in stoppage time as first Mohamed Salah and then Ibrahima Konate threatened to win it in stoppage time. Huge moments, potentially, once this most nerve-jangling of title races is done and dusted.

    The England international had earlier made another big intervention, denying Darwin Nunez as the substitute ran on to Salah's brilliant pass. A poor finish, yes, but credit must go to the goalkeeper too. Ramsdale has been huge for Arsenal this season, and he came up big again for them here.

  4. LOSER: Mohamed Salah

    LOSER: Mohamed Salah

    Maybe we can blame Steven Gerrard for Salah's new-found struggles from the penalty spot?

    A few weeks ago, the former Liverpool captain conducted an interview with the Egyptian for the Reds' in-house TV channel, in which they discussed Salah's mindset and technique with penalties.

    "I don't like them," Salah admitted, and he'll like them even less now. Since his tete-a-tete with Gerrard he's missed two, both of them fired wide of the right-hand upright.

    Salah, in fairness, delivered a pretty good performance all told, full of menace and belief. He was excellent against Oleksandr Zinchenko and by far Liverpool's best player in a pretty poor first half. Had it not been for Ramsdale, he'd have been the matchwinner late on too.

    But if he takes the Reds' next penalty, it'll be both a surprise and a risk...

  5. WINNER: The neutrals

    WINNER: The neutrals

    Sometimes, amid all the analysis and all the fallout and all the tribalism, it is right just to take a step back and say 'wow, what a game of football!'

    This was one of those occasions, for sure. The final game of the Premier League weekend certainly lived up to its billing, as these two sides delivered a contest which ebbed and flowed, which niggled and needled, and which had the kind of twists and turns scripted TV dramas can never replicate.

    Arsenal had it won but could have lost it. Liverpool were a shambles and then morphed into a cyclone. They had 19 shots inside the penalty area, more than any side has managed against the Gunners since 2003. There were scuffles and arguments, time-wasting galore and chances at both ends. Both teams ran themselves into the ground, and both earned the appreciation from their fans at the final whistle. "Super intense," said Arteta. "Crazy," added Klopp.

    "One of the best games I've ever seen," was the verdict of Micah Richards over on Sky Sports, and few neutrals would disagree. This was English football at its energetic, most dramatic best.

  6. LOSER: Constantine Hatzidakis
    Getty/Sky Sports

    LOSER: Constantine Hatzidakis

    Oh yeah, and in case four goals, 30 shots, nine corners and a late equaliser wasn't enough for you, this game also featured an elbowing controversy featuring...an assistant referee.

    What on earth Constantine Hatzidakis was thinking is anyone's guess, but he now finds himself facing a PGMOL investigation, after appearing to swing an elbow towards Liverpool defender Andy Robertson as the teams made their way to the dressing rooms at half-time.

    Robertson, stunned, was booked by referee Tierney for his protests, and we surely haven't heard the last of this most bizarre - and unprecedented - of incidents. If players face lengthy bans for violent conduct and putting their hands on referees - hi, Aleksandar Mitrovic - then what happens to officials when they do something similar?

    We will soon find out. "PGMOL is aware of an incident involving assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis and Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson at half-time during the Liverpool v Arsenal fixture at Anfield," read the statement from the Football Association, released before the game had even finished. "We will review the matter in full.”