Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger criticised his side’s decision making after a last-gasp equaliser from Liverpool substitute Joe Allen robbed his side of a two-point cushion at the Premier League summit last night.
Striker Roberto Firmino twice fired Liverpool into the lead only for Arsenal to retaliate through Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who netted what looked like a second-half winner before Allen’s late intervention levelled an electrifying contest.
The Gunners remain top on goal difference from Leicester, who drew level on points with the north London club by defeating fourth-placed Tottenham, while Manchester City are three points behind after their stalemate with Everton.
“I feel at 3-2 we were guilty of two or three bad decisions in the final third where we tried to play not together enough and in the end we got caught on the long ball,” said Wenger.
“It’s always disappointing when it’s the 90th minute and you get caught on such a simple ball. I think that’s where we have to look at ourselves. That should not happen.
“I felt we had an apprehensive start. We had some bad memories from a few years ago [losing 5-1 in 2014] and you could see that in some players. We went 1-0 down and then we started to play.
“I’m very disappointed but, overall, I cannot fault the effort and commitment of the team. We come out of the game with a lot of positives but still some regrets.”
Liverpool had only won two of their last 17 Premier League showdowns with Arsenal but surged into a 10th minute lead when Firmino lashed left-footed past a wrong-footed Petr Cech after the Arsenal goalkeeper had repelled an Emre Can effort.
But the lead lasted a mere four minutes. Arsenal had barely threatened as an attacking force when Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell slid in Ramsey, who rifled low past Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet at his near post.
The avalanche of goals continued moments later as Firmino collected a square pass from James Milner following comical Arsenal defending and curled a stunning effort beyond an outstretched Cech and into the top corner of his net.
Retreating centre-half Mamadou Sakho headed a Ramsey lob over the crossbar, while from the resulting near-post corner Giroud’s delicate touch squirmed beyond a scrambling Mignolet for a 25th minute equaliser.
A sliding Giroud was unable to turn a Walcott cross into a gaping goal, while in first-half stoppage-time Firmino clipped the top of Cech’s crossbar. Giroud, however, was to fire Arsenal into the lead 10 minutes after the re-start.
A lightning break down the right flank ended with the Frenchman majestically turning former Gunner Kolo Toure and whipping an unstoppable shot beyond Mignolet.
But Liverpool stole a last-gasp leveller as a lofted ball into the penalty area was nodded by towering substitute Christian Benteke into the path of Allen, who calmly steered a volley past Cech.