Liverpool vs. Arsenal: 10 Classic Matches That Define the Rivalry

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IIMarch 1, 2012

Liverpool vs. Arsenal: 10 Classic Matches That Define the Rivalry

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    Liverpool and Arsenal are two of the most successful teams in the history of English football, so it is only natural that the two sides would develop a fierce rivalry with one another.

    Over the years, there have been many thrilling contests between the two, and most of them have carried some degree of significance in terms of League standing or Cup elimination.

    This weekend, the storied rivalry will resume, as Arsenal travel to the famous pitch of Anfield to lock horns with a Liverpool side who have broken their trophy doubt by winning the Carling Cup Final over Cardiff City and will look to get back in the mix for Champions League qualification.

    To refresh ourselves on the significance of this game and the rivalry itself, let us look back at 10 of the fixtures that made this rivalry into what it is today. 

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool: 1950 FA Cup Final

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    This is arguably the match that got it all started.

    Arsenal squared off against Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final, and Joe Mercer captained the Gunners to a legendary win over the Reds.

    One-hundred thousand people flocked to the old Wembley Stadium to see Reg Lewis' brace win the honors for Arsenal in this first meeting of the two clubs of any real historical significance.

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: 1971 FA Cup Final

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    The two teams met again in the FA Cup final 21 years later, and again, an Arsenal team of glorious haircuts emerged victorious over their Merseyside counterparts.

    This was the first of Arsenal's historic run of FA Cup Final appearances during the 1970s, and it was won in dramatic fashion.

    Scoreless after 90 minutes, Liverpool actually opened the scoring in the 92nd minute, but two late Arsenal goals stole the trophy that would kick off a strong decade of success for Bertie Mee's side.

Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool: January 28, 2002

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    Dennis Bergkamp's skillful goal was overshadowed in this match by a staggering three red cards given by referee Mike Riley on the day.

    What was even more amazing was that it took only four minutes for tempers to flare and the cards to be issued.

    First, Martin Keown was dismissed for a foul on Michael Owen, then Dennis Bergkamp was given his marching orders after lashing out at Jamie Carragher. Finally, it was Carragher himself who was sent off for hurling a coin into the stands.

    Tempers often flare in this rivalry, and this match epitomized that volatility.

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal: 2001 FA Cup Final

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    In 2001, Liverpool finally got redemption for two consecutive FA Cup Final defeats to Arsenal by coming from behind to snatch the trophy from under the Gunners' noses.

    The Gunners dominated for the majority of the match and finally made the breakthrough with a 72nd minute Freddie Ljungberg goal.

    But Michael Owen, at the height of his powers, came to Liverpool's rescue and scored two goals in the space of six minutes to win the match in dramatic fashion for the Reds.

    It was embarrassing for Arsenal's historically good English defence but a glorious moment of redemption for Liverpool.

Andrei Arshavin 4-4 Liverpool: April 21, 2009

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    I fondly remember Andrei Arshavin's glory days. Shortly after he became Arsenal's record signing, the diminutive Russian took England by storm with his dynamic ability, and in arguably his greatest ever display for Arsenal, smashed four goals past Liverpool in a thrilling draw.

    At the time, Liverpool had legitimate hopes of winning the Premier League, but Andrei Arshavin traded blows with Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun and eliminated any hope that the Reds had of holding off Manchester United for the top spot.

    It was a thrilling game of football and one that you wish you had the pleasure of watching as a neutral.

Arsenal 4-2 Liverpool: April 9, 2004

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    It is often forgotten that during Arsenal's famous "Invincibles" season of 2003-04, there were hurdles and heartbreak along the road to immortality.

    In fact, when the Gunners played Liverpool on April 9th, they had improbably been knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League in rapid succession and were desperately seeking to regain their form.

    Thankfully, Arsenal had Thierry Henry in his prime, and the fantastic Frenchman bagged a hat-trick at Highbury as the Gunners returned to the big stage in dramatic fashion.

    As in many Arsenal-Liverpool matchups, there was twisting and turning drama, as the Reds took the lead twice in the first half before the real Arsenal showed up, and Henry rescued all three points for his side.

Liverpool 3-6 Arsenal: January 9, 2007

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    Even though this match took place in the Carling Cup, it is still remarkable for its scoreline and shows the unpredictability of matches between these two teams.

    Julio Baptista ran riot for Arsenal, netting four goals, as Jeremie Aliadiere and Alex Song also got on the scoresheet. And for good measure, Liverpool scored three on their rivals to not let the game turn into a complete rout.

    This was more like an inflated hockey score than a soccer one, and the way Arsenal tore Liverpool to shreds so unexpectedly that night shows that anything can happen when these two sides meet.

Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal: April 8, 2008

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    Speaking of stunning results, this was an enthralling match that see-sawed back and forth between sides in the second leg of this Champions League knockout tie.

    Abou Diaby struck first for the visitors, before Sami Hyypia and Fernando Torres put Liverpool back ahead. Then a moment of genius from Theo Walcott set up Emmanuel Adebayor for the tap-in, and it appeared as though Arsenal were headed to the semifinals.

    But a Steven Gerrard penalty and a Ryan Babel strike would deal two devastating blows to Arsenal, and Liverpool amazingly got the privilege of moving on to face Chelsea.

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool: April 17, 2011

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    As an Arsenal fan, just recounting this awful day is painful for me.

    The Gunners were clinging to the last shreds of title hopes, and no less than a win versus Liverpool was needed to keep their dreams alive.

    Following an injury to Jamie Carragher, Robin van Persie miraculously struck home a penalty in the 98th minute to surely win the game for Arsenal in stunning fashion.

    But step up Emmanuel Eboue.

    Epitomizing the Gunners' mental fragility, the Ivorian fouled Lucas Leiva in the penalty area while he was moving away from goal, and Dirk Kuyt smashed home the resulting penalty to send Arsenal into despair once more.

Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal: May 26, 1989

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    There can be no greater match between these two storied sides in terms of drama, fame and historical significance, can there?

    With the 1988-89 League title on the line on the last day of the season, Arsenal needed a two-goal win over Liverpool to win the honors.

    As stoppage time wore on, Gooners despaired as the score remained 1-0, and Liverpool stubbornly held out as if their lives depended on the result.

    But with Arsenal's very last chance, Michael Thomas burst through on goal and chipped a sumptuous finish over Bruce Grobbelar to hand the Gunners the title at the death.

    It is the single most famous day in the history of Arsenal football club, and undoubtedly the biggest rivalry match of the many great ones between Arsenal and Liverpool.