Arsenal scored two goals in as many second-half minutes to deny Liverpool a potentially vital victory at the Emirates on Wednesday.
In a battle for a Champions League spot, for long periods Liverpool looked like they would move level on points with Arsenal, particularly when Jordan Henderson added to Luis Suarez’s first-half opener after the break.
But Arsenal survived a defensive performance to forget as Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott scored in quick succession midway through the second period.
Liverpool came into the match without a victory over any side above them in the Premier League this season and on the back of a 3-2 FA Cup defeat to Oldham on Sunday. Yet, on the day they announced the signing of Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool received another boost as they took the lead after only five minutes.
For Arsene Wenger, it was a goal that may well give him nightmares about his defense for many nights to come.
In an embarrassing catalogue of errors, first Bacary Sagna slipped to allow Glen Johnson to break free down the left and cross into the box. The danger should still have been averted, but Thomas Vermaelen completely missed with his wild attempted clearance, allowing Daniel Sturridge to fire a low shot on goal. Szczesny did well to block, but, after Arsenal missed another chance to clear their lines, Henderson laid the ball across to Suarez, whose shot deflected past the beleaguered Arsenal goalkeeper.
Arsenal certainly had their chances to get back onto level terms before the break.
Just a minute after falling behind, Walcott produced a fine save at his near post by Pepe Reina.
It was the same combination later in the period as this time Reina dived at full stretch to deny Walcott’s curled effort creeping inside the far post.
In between, Giroud missed the most presentable chance of the half for the home side. Lukas Podolski, played clear down the left, pulled the ball back to find Giroud perfectly bursting in 12 yards out, but the Frenchman’s stabbed effort went well wide of the target.
Liverpool also went close to adding to their lead as Podolski cleared a Daniel Agger header off the line.
Rodger’s side did take what looked like being a commanding advantage in the match on the hour mark.
Henderson did well to evade challenges as he cut inside the area from the left and received a most fortunate of bounces off a defender after his initial shot had been blocked allowing him a routine finish past Szczesny.
But just five minutes later the game was well and truly back on. Jack Wilshere curled a free-kick into an ideal area in the box and Giroud rose well to head low into the corner.
And no time at all, Arsenal were level with a fine one-touch goal. Santi Cazorla fed the ball into Giroud and the French striker laid it off instantly into the path of Walcott, who struck a first time shot from the angle low past an unmoved Reina and into the far corner.
In the remaining quarter of the match both sides had opportunities to claim the three points, but Per Mertesacker put a near-post header wide, while Szczesny just did enough to keep a Suarez shot at bay.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.