Arsenal may not be playing Liverpool in the final game of the season on Sunday, but, The Gunners are in direct competition with the Reds for the final UEFA Champions League place.
So, I thought we should take a look back at the time we hammered Liverpool at Anfield, to inspire some kind of confidence ahead of a crucial final day.
January 9th, 2007. Arsenal travelled to Merseyside to face Rafa Benitez’s side in the League Cup quarter-final, with Tottenham awaiting the winners.
The Arsenal side that night contained numerous Gunners ‘legends’, including Manuel Almunia, Justin Hoyte and Armand Traore, while Liverpool fielded some of their own ‘greats’, with Danny Guthrie, Gabriel Paletta and Mark Gonzalez all in the starting XI.
A tight, yet low on quality clash was what many expected but the game turned into a record breaking, nine goal thriller, with the most unlikely of hero’s putting in a man of the match performance.
Having joined on loan as part of the deal that saw Jose Antonio Reyes move to Real Madrid, Julio Baptista had done little of note in an Arsenal shirt, despite the big things expected of him. However, the Brazilian powerhouse truly stepped up at Anfield.
It took 27 minutes for the scoring to be opened, when Baptista’s striker partner Jeremie Aliadiere latched onto a long ball downfield, controlling superbly before bundling the ball into the net at the second attempt.
The Gunners 1-0 lead lasted only six minutes though, with Robbie Fowler’s clever near post flick levelling the scores.
With five minutes left before the halftime whistle, Arsenal won a free-kick about 25 yards from goal. Baptista looked like he fancied it and fancy it he did, curling the ball with power over the wall and past a motionless Jerzy Dudek in the Liverpool goal.
A 2-1 lead at half-time would have left the Gunners in a good position going into the second half, but, 3-1 would have been even better, and Alex Song duly obliged. After a Cesc Fabregas corner evaded just about everyone in the penalty area, Cameroonian midfielder Song diverted the ball into the net. In truth, he knew very little about it but they all count.
As if 3-1 wasn’t good enough, literally seconds before the half-time whistle, Baptista popped up again to make it 4-1 and grab his second goal. Linking up with Aliadiere, the Frenchman squared the ball for Baptista, who was left with the easiest of tap-ins from six yards out.
With a 4-1 lead at the break, Arsenal looked comfortable but needed to keep their foot on the gas as Liverpool looked to comeback. And Baptista certainly had is foot firmly on the peddle.
Despite missing the perfect opportunity to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot, thanks to a wonderful save from Dudek, Baptista was determined to take home the match ball, and he did just that on the hour mark.
After some shocking Liverpool defending, the Brazilian picked up the ball 20 yards from goal, placing a well-struck shot into the bottom left corner to give The Gunners a 5-1 lead, and complete his hat-trick.
The hosts then scored a couple of their own, thanks to a superb Steven Gerrard volley and a Sami Hyypia header. At 5-3 could a comeback be on? Well, Baptista was still on the pitch, so the answer was no.
With just six minutes left on the clock, a long ball downfield saw Aliadiere chase what seemed like a hopeless pass, getting to the ball first, outrunning Paletta and leaving him in a heap, squaring for another Baptista tap in and his fourth goal of the game.
Just in case you were struggling to keep up, the final score finished as 6-3 to Arsenal, with big Baptista scoring just the four goals.
This was the first time in almost 77 years that Liverpool had conceded six goals at Anfield, while Baptista became only the ninth Arsenal player to score four goals in a single game and the first to do so at Anfield, although he would not be the last, as we probably all know.
We may be facing Liverpool’s Merseyside rival Everton on Sunday but, we could do with that kind of result both at the Emirates and at The Riverside, as Jurgen Klopp’s men travel to face already relegated Middlesbrough.
In case you were wondering, the majority of bookies won’t even give you odds on a 6-3 result, but the odds on a 6-2 Boro win stand at 250/1, while a 6-2 Arsenal win against Everton is slightly more likely according to Sky Bet, with odds of 200/1.
While this kind of scores appears very unlikely, look at it this way, at least it’s more likely than Leicester winning the Premier League last season, and we all know what happened with that one.
Here’s to dreaming.