Liverpool: A late Pepe Reina own goal helped Arsenal salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at Anfield after David Ngog had put Liverpool in front in a match that saw both sides finish with 10 men on Sunday.
After coming out to claim a cross in the 90th minute, Reina was put under pressure from Marouane Chamakh and spilled the ball over his own line to give Arsenal an equaliser.
Liverpool had played all the second half without Joe Cole while the Gunners’ Laurent Koscielny was also dismissed in injury time.
Cole was sent off just before the interval for a late tackle on Koscielny but just a minute after the restart, Ngog thrashed home a fine shot from the right side of the penalty box to put Liverpool ahead.
“We’ve defended very well and it’s unfortunate to give a goal away at the end. We’re very disappointed. It’s not even a goal where they’ve used their man advantage,” said Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to blame goalkeeper Manuel Almunia for Liverpool’s goal, even though the Spaniard was beaten at his near post.
“He’s been beaten at the short corner but you give credit to Ngog,” said Wenger.
After the early-summer upheaval prompted by Rafa Benitez’s departure as Liverpool manager, new boss Roy Hodgson had his first real opportunity to prove that last season was forgotten.
He has convinced the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay at Anfield while former Chelsea midfielder Cole has also helped strengthen the squad.
Torres was only on the bench as he recovers from a thigh strain picked up in the World Cup final while for Arsenal, Wenger opted to give 18-year-old Jack Wilshere a start in midfield and summer signings Chamakh and Koscielny also made their Premier League debuts.
Early on, Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson co-operated effectively down the right wing to cause problems while Cole also did his best to get behind the Arsenal backline but Liverpool could not keep possession long enough to cause real harm.
Arsenal’s Gael Clichy resorted to shooting from 30 metres to try and break the deadlock.
The first real chance of the opening period occurred when Milan Jovanovic beat Arsenal’s offside trap and chased down a Carragher ball but he slammed it into the crowd rather than the back of the net.
As half-time approached Johnson’s left-foot effort appeared to be dipping in but Almunia get a crucial touch to tip it over the bar and Ngog had a header from the resulting corner cleared off the line by Clichy.
But just as Liverpool looked like ending the first half as the stronger side, Cole then received his marching orders after diving in near the corner flag.
Cole’s dismissal clearly galvanised Liverpool and they scored just a minute after the restart thanks to Ngog.
He seemed to be going nowhere as he ran into the box but then thrashed the ball past Almunia to give Liverpool the lead.
Hodgson threw Torres on with just less than 20 minutes to go and as the end approached, Reina saved brilliantly from a Theo Walcott free-kick that seemed certain to go in.
Liverpool’s resistance finally broke and Reina cruelly dropped the ball over his own goal-line for an entertaining ending.
There was also just enough time for Koscielny to get dismissed for two bookable offences.