Arsenal recovers to draw 2-2 against Liverpool

Arsenal staged a second-half comeback against Liverpool to draw

2-2 as both teams missed a chance to close in on the Champions

League qualification places in the English Premier League on

Wednesday.

Arsenal’s calamitous defending allowed Liverpool to race into

the lead after five minutes through Luis Suarez, and Jordan

Henderson was given the space to extend the lead on the hour.

But Liverpool’s own defense collapsed, with Olivier Giroud

beginning Arsenal’s comeback with a header in the 64th minute and

Theo Walcott equalized three minutes later.

”We could have lost the game and won it as well by three or

four goals,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ”That showed we

created many chances going forward but we were nervous

defensively.”

The draw left sixth-place Arsenal four points adrift of

Tottenham in the fourth Champions League place, and three points

behind Everton, which beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1.

Liverpool remained three points behind Arsenal in seventh,

having failed to produce its first win against a top-10 team this

season.

”It’s a game we should have won, but we didn’t,” Liverpool

manager Brendan Rodgers said. ”We showed great resilience and

quality … I can see the group getting better all the time.”

Liverpool showed from the start it had recovered quickly from an

embarrassing FA Cup loss against third-tier club Oldham on

Sunday.

The visitors were helped by the defensive frailties of Arsenal,

which conceded first for the fifth consecutive league match.

Seizing on a slip by Bacary Sagna, Glen Johnson crossed to

Daniel Sturridge, whose shot was parried by goalkeeper Wojciech

Szczesny.

The ball came out to Aaron Ramsey who dithered, Henderson picked

up possession, teed up Suarez and the striker’s shot deflected off

Sagna into the net.

Such collapses at the back have been nothing new for Arsenal

this season as the team’s pursuit of the top four has faltered.

Arsenal tried to produce a speedy reply, with a

defense-splitting pass from Jack Wilshere releasing Walcott but

goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s agility thwarted the resulting shot.

But Arsenal was leaving itself exposed in the pursuit of an

equalizer as Liverpool continued to apply the pressure.

Suarez was given space around the halfway line to ping a precise

cross-field pass to Sturridge, but the January signing struck

wide.

At the other end, Giroud missed the target and Walcott’s effort

was tipped wide by Reina.

Meanwhile, Podolski was required on the Arsenal goal-line to

clear Daniel Agger’s header.

There was a blow for Arsenal when Kieran Gibbs limped off with a

thigh injury that will keep him out for three weeks, as he was

replaced by Andre Santos.

While Walcott came close to leveling at the start of the second

half when he nodded over, Liverpool was looking the more cohesive

unit.

And their endeavor was rewarded with a second goal as Henderson

cut into the penalty area past Per Mertesacker and Santos. An

initial shot came back off Santos and Henderson swept the ball into

the net on the hour.

But from a position of strength, Liverpool crumbled as Arsenal’s

quality finally shone through.

”Going 2-0 up it’s disappointing to concede so quickly,”

Henderson said.

The comeback began in the 64th minute when Giroud rose to meet

Wilshere’s free kick and a low header was sent past Reina.

Three minutes later, Arsenal was level after cutting through the

Liverpool defense with a flowing interchange between Sagna, Santi

Cazorla and Giroud before Walcott lashed the ball into the net.

”He is absolutely moving forward – his attitude, his

determination,” Wenger said. ”He is a man now playing football

and he takes responsibility.”

Arsenal pressed for the winner, with Cazorla flashing a shot

across the face of goal and then setting up Giroud, whose effort

was pushed wide by Reina.

But Giroud squandered a better chance to claim the three points

when he miskicked after Podolski sent a low cross to the far

post.

As the match had begun, the final chance would fall to Suarez,

but Szczesny turned away his shot from a tight angle.