As two of the most seasoned top flight campaigners in English history, Liverpool and Arsenal have served up their fair share of memorable meetings in league and cups over the years.
Only Everton and Aston Villa have spent more time in the highest division than the pair since 1888, with the Reds and Gunners rightly classed as two of the most prestigious clubs in English football. To mark the anniversary of their 4-4 classic five years ago, FIFA.com takes a look at six of the most memorable encounters between the pair, games that have decided titles, been packed with drama and featured plenty of goals.
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool, FA Cup final, 8 May 1971
The North Londoners came into this Wembley final riding high, having wrapped up the First Division title at local rivals Tottenham Hotspur less than a week earlier. They arrived with the hope of matching Spurs as the only English side to win the double in the 20th century, but a combination of poor Arsenal finishing and fine goalkeeping by Liverpool's Ray Clemence saw normal time end 0-0.
No sooner had extra time begun than Steve Heighway beat Bob Wilson at his near post to swing the match in the Reds' favour. After surviving ten minutes of Arsenal pressure, Liverpool then succumbed when a scramble in the box saw Eddie Kelly poke the ball into the net to level. Then, with nine minutes remaining, a 20-year-old Charlie George thumped the ball home from the edge of the Liverpool area to complete the turnaround with a spectacular winner. His resulting celebration, laid on the Wembley turf with his arms outstretched, is now part of Arsenal folklore.
“I’m not sure I realised the enormity of what we’d achieved. Some of the younger players thought that this would happen every year.”
Arsenal star Charlie George
Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal, First Division, 26 May 1989
This time around the wind was fully in Liverpool's sails as they were the team one game away from claiming the double. Having beaten local rivals Everton five days earlier in the FA Cup final at Wembley, and having reeled in Arsenal after a 19-game unbeaten streak to lead the league by three points, the Reds seemed all set for a triumphant homecoming at Anfield. Arsenal needed to win by two clear goals to pip the team that had dominated football in England during the 1980s, and the Gunners had not won at Liverpool for 15 years.
Arsenal, intent on not making their task any tougher defended stoutly in the first period before Alan Smith nodded in a Nigel Winterburn free-kick just after the break. Michael Thomas spurned one of the best chances of the half shortly after, but he would memorably enjoy a second shot at glory. With 91 minutes played, Smith chipped the ball into the path of Thomas, who with the aid of a ricochet got beyond defender Steve Nicol. He burst towards goal as Anfield drew breath and wrote his name in history by poking the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar for the most dramatic of title-deciders.
“It just seemed as if everything was in slow motion. I think it’s the greatest Arsenal goal of all time.”
Arsenal midfielder Perry Groves on Thomas' goal
Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool, FA Cup final, 14 May 2001
In the 40 years since their last FA Cup final meeting previous to this one, the pair had lifted the trophy seven times. On this occasion, it was Liverpool who came out on top on their way to an unprecedented cup treble. In the first final – which was not a replay – to be staged away from Wembley in almost 80 years, the Reds made it two out of two at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, having already won the League Cup there.
The Londoners had two efforts cleared off the line before the game burst into life with 20 minutes to play as Freddie Ljungberg rounded Sander Westerveld to put Arsenal ahead. It took just ten minutes for Michael Owen to level proceedings though as the Gunners failed to clear a Gary McAllister free-kick, with the England star volleying beyond international team-mate David Seaman. And it was the pacey striker who would snatch all the headlines as he broke behind the defence to finish superbly with two minutes to go and claim a dramatic comeback victory.
"It was a very good game and the fans enjoyed it. The little fellow worked wonders and got us back with two goals.”
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard on Owen's contribution**
Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal (5-3 aggregate), UEFA Champions League quarter-final, 8 April 2008
Dirk Kuyt's away goal in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates in the pair's first non-domestic meeting meant Liverpool came into second leg, the third of three games between the sides in seven days, in charge of the tie. That changed after 13 minutes, however, when Abou Diaby slammed home at the near post in front of the Kop to set the tone for a heart-stopping match. Sami Hyypia's pin-point header saw honours even at the break, and yet more drama would follow in the second half.
A superb turn and strike in the box from an on-fire Fernando Torres, picking out the far top corner, put Liverpool ahead for the first time across the two legs. There were only seven minutes left when an 18-year-old Theo Walcott picked the ball up in his own half to stream forward, beating four red shirts, before squaring for Emmanuel Adebayor to put Arsenal within touching distance of the semi-finals. Immediately from the restart though, Ryan Babel charged into the box and was brought down by Kolo Toure, leaving Gerrard to coolly slot home from 12 yards. With Arsenal desperately searching for an equaliser to send them through, Babel himself sealed Liverpool's passage to the last four.
“When we went to 2-2 so near the end, my players showed tremendous character and desire to get up off the ground to win the tie.”
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez**
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal, Premier League, 21 April 2009
The 2008/09 season witnessed Liverpool's closest title challenge for the best part of two decades, and when Arsenal came to town the Reds had the opportunity to move two points above Manchester United, albeit having played a game more. Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski was the thorn in Liverpool's side as the hosts failed to strike in a first period that saw man-of-the-night Andrey Arshavin slam in the opening goal.
After the break a Premier League classic ensued as Torres' header levelled matters before Yossi Benayoun took a boot to the face in putting Liverpool ahead. Arshavin then made the scoreline 2-2 in some style as he robbed Alvaro Arbeloa before picking out the far corner, shortly after which a poor Fabio Aurelio clearance gifted the Russian his hat-trick. Torres squared things up again at 3-3 with a trademark turn and finish but there was plenty of drama still to come. A frantic finale ensued as Walcott broke to feed Arshavin his fourth on the stroke of 90 minutes, but Benayoun was on hand to scuff home a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time. In 195 meetings between the sides, only three have seen more goals.
“We are half happy because we scored four goals and half unhappy because we conceded four. Also, 4-3 up with two minutes to go, the team is disappointed to draw but I give credit to my team for a great performance.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger**
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal, Premier League, 8 February 2014Arsenal may have arrived at Anfield as league leaders, but the Gunners left with their title credentials in tatters after they were hit by a red whirlwind as soon as the whistle went. A sloppy foul inside the first 30 seconds should not have been cause for a total collapse, but when Martin Skrtel met Gerrard's free-kick his header set an astonishing 20 minutes in motion.
The Slovakian doubled his tally in similar fashion before the clock had reached double figures, then the shell-shocked visiting defence were all at sea when Raheem Sterling made it 3-0. A fine Luis Suarez pass unleashed the pace of Daniel Sturridge to leave all in his wake to complete one of the most blistering starts in Premier League history, with the hosts four goals to the good before the first half had even reached its mid-point. Arsenal were on the ropes and, while Liverpool took their foot off the gas, Sterling doubled his personal tally after the break. Mikel Arteta earned a consolation goal, but it was celebrated by few inside Anfield.
"It was breathtaking, some of our play. The intensity of our pressing and the goals were fantastic. It gave us a great platform."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers