April 9 (Reuters) – After surrendering a two-goal advantage against Liverpool and squandering a chance to build on their Premier League lead, Arsenal were lucky to escape Anfield with a 2-2 draw following an exhilarating encounter on Sunday.
Still, the mood in the dressing room after Sunday’s edge-of-seat drama was about two points lost than the one salvaged, manager Mikel Arteta said.
“When you concede at the end it’s always two points dropped,” Arteta said.
Arsenal sliced through Liverpool’s defence with ruthless efficiency through most of the first half and looked poised to finally exorcise their Anfield demons with their first victory at the Merseyside stadium since 2012.
Instead, the draw spoiled what would have been the Gunners’ eighth consecutive win and a chance to move eight points clear of second-place Manchester City.
“Super intense match,” Arteta said. “We started very well, scored the first and the second and that was the moment to kill the game. Before halftime we gave them hope and they generated belief.
“The second half was a very different story. We gave every ball away in dangerous areas and allowed dangerous results and big transition moments. Then you have to suffer.”
Arsenal surged into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus, but the game shifted momentum after a scuffle between Granit Xhaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold that riled up the already raucous crowd.
Arsenal had lost their discipline and Mo Salah capitalised with a goal just before halftime.
With Liverpool pressing, Roberto Firmino headed in an 87th-minute equaliser bringing the delirious crowd to their feet.
Salah and Ibrahima Konate had brilliant chances in the dying minutes. Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale swatted away Salah’s blistering shot with a diving save and then scrambled to claw the ball off the line as Konate attempted to chest it in.
“We relied on big defensive moments where Aaron took a big part,” Arteta said. “We missed that ruthlessness to take the game. It’s probably a fair result. The big lesson is place the way we did in the first half.”
Arsenal’s lead was cut to six points, with City having a game in hand. The result set up what should be a thrilling match between the two at City’s Etihad home on April 26.
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