LIVERPOOL – Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta lamented the lack of ruthlessness displayed by his team as they let a two-goal advantage slip in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday, which completely opened up the race for the Premier League crown.
The reigning champions currently hold the title’s fate in their own hands despite Arteta’s team leading Manchester City by six points at the top of the league.
Later this month, City will meet the Gunners at the Etihad after holding a game in hand.
Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus scored goals for Arsenal, who looked to be cruising to their ninth straight league victory.
Before halftime, though, Mohamed Salah scored to give Liverpool hope for a comeback.
“We missed that ruthlessness to take the game. The big lesson is we didn’t play the way we did the first half.
“We didn’t continue to play. We gave every ball away, allowed big spaces and big transition moments to the best team in the world in this,” said Arteta.
The game will also be remembered for a spectacular incident that occurred right after halftime when Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson was elbowed in the face by assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis.
Despite having a flawless start, Arsenal has not defeated Liverpool in the league on the road since 2012. This represents one of the biggest obstacles standing in their way of winning the championship.
Bukayo Saka burst through the Liverpool defence, and the ball broke nicely for Martinelli to nudge past Alisson Becker, giving the visitors the lead after just eight minutes.
The decline of Liverpool from the club that nearly won an unprecedented quadruple last season to mid-table mediocrity has been significantly aided by Virgil van Dijk’s recent form drop.
When Jesus was left unattended to head in Martinelli’s cross after 28 minutes, the Dutch centre-back was caught off guard and Arsenal increased their lead.
But signs of a youthful side going for their first title finally showed once Salah halved the arrears three minutes before half-time.
The drama didn’t end there; while the players were leaving the field for halftime, assistant referee Hatzidakis elbowed Robertson.
PGMOL, the organization that oversees referees, has indicated that it will investigate the incident.
As a result, Liverpool came out strong in the second half and had a great chance to tie the score when Rob Holding brought down Diogo Jota. However, Salah missed the ensuing penalty shot.
Salah nearly made amends moments later as Ramsdale produced a stunning save to keep his side in front and the England goalkeeper was needed again nine minutes from time to save a one-on-one with Darwin Nunez.
Firmino finally made Liverpool‘s pressure count when he headed home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross to set up a grandstand finish.
Salah blazed over a glorious chance before Ramsdale made remarkable saves from the Egyptian and Ibrahima Konate to ensure Arsenal escaped just with a point.
Liverpool remain down in eighth, 12 points adrift of the top four.