Arsène Wenger buried the frustration of conceding a 90th-minute equaliser at Liverpool to insist Arsenal’s display in an enthralling 3-3 draw at Anfield had strengthened his belief in his team’s Premier League title credentials.
Arsenal fell behind twice to Roberto Firmino goals and led through Olivier Giroud’s exquisite turn and finish until the final minute of normal time, when the Liverpool substitutes Christian Benteke and Joe Allen combined to produce a merited point for Jürgen Klopp’s team. Visiting players were visibly distraught on the final whistle having failed to preserve their lead, with Arsenal now level on points with Leicester City at the top of the table. But it was an upbeat Wenger who afterwards insisted his team had shown the characteristics demanded of a genuine title challenger.
Liverpool and Arsenal draw thriller after Firmino and Giroud doubles
“I am frustrated by the result and not disappointed by the performance even if we started a bit apprehensively,” the Arsenal manager said. “We were a bit on the back foot for the first 20 minutes, we were one down and came back, then 2-1 down but showed character then as well. The frustration comes from the fact that at 3-2 we had three situations when we could’ve made it 4-2 and made a bad decision. That was frustration for me, and the fact we conceded in the last minute. But that can happen in England.
“Overall it was a game between two teams who gave absolutely everything. Look at the results tonight – it showed everywhere is even. The dressing room is frustrated but I feel they need to transform that frustration into more motivation for the next game because there are more positives than negatives tonight. What happened tonight strengthened my belief that we can have a big part to play in this league.”
Wenger also confirmed the signing of the Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny from Basel, saying he is in contention to play against Stoke this weekend: “He has joined us and we will see if he can qualify for Sunday.”
Wenger revealed Alexis Sánchez could return from injury at Stoke City on Sunday and admitted he warned Klopp he could be sent to the stands for disputing a throw-in with the fourth official in the first half. He said: “I told him to calm down or they will send you to stands. It was alright. There was no bad feelings at all.”
The Liverpool manager introduced the new central defensive signing Steven Caulker as an emergency centre-forward as his team chased the game at 3-2. “I thought it was a good idea,” said Klopp. “After we got the draw we had to shout really loud to change our tactics. It was a good change and a good debut.”
And Klopp insisted the poor defending that allowed Arsenal to recover was not the fault of the goalkeeper Simon Mignolet but a collective problem. He added: “The second goal, the set play, Simon needs help from all the players. We lose the first header and then it is a volley of Giroud. It is not so easy, two lost challenges. The second goal, the short corner, I think on a perfect day, he can make the save but it is a lot of mistakes before. The pass is not allowed usually and we have to defend this better.”