Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2: Arsene Wenger admits his side were scarred by 'bad memories' of last season's 5-1 thrashing

Defender Skrtel headed home in the 97th-minute to secure draw

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger claimed that his Arsenal team had been scarred by the “bad memories” of their 5-1 thrashing at Anfield last season as they laboured to a 2-2 draw against Liverpool, denied a win by Martin Skrtel’s equaliser six minutes into injury time.

With his team down to ten men after the dismissal of substitute Fabio Borini, Rodgers’ described Liverpool’s performance as “brilliant” and said that they could still challenge for a place in the top four despite their bad start to the season. The home side had 65 per cent possession and took the lead through Philippe Coutinho before Arsenal scored with two of their three attempts on goal, through Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud.

Wenger said: “Look, we had problems to get our flow going. We didn’t have enough possession in the game. In the first half I felt it was down to bit tactical and psychological reasons. In the second half, we blocked them much better. But when we were 2-1 up, we just let them come at us and didn’t come out enough to score a third goal. And as long as you don’t score goal number three you are under threat to concede a second goal.”

 

Asked why the tactical and psychological part of his team’s game had not been up to speed, Wenger said: “Maybe bad memories from last season, that played a part as well. Some players weren’t at their best … I felt we played with the handbrake on a little bit in the first half, especially.

“Look, we played with three strikers, plus [Alex] Chamberlain, plus [Santi] Cazorla and that’s basically five offensive players and I felt that we didn’t create enough.”

In contrast, Rodgers was bullish about his team’s prospects after their comeback. Asked whether they could still challenge for the Champions League places, he said: “Absolutely, we can make an impression on top four. It was always going to be a big challenge, with the teams above us. Of course we have to make up points over the next part of the season but this is a group that can go on a run.

“Last season we won 11, a good run of games can very quickly move you up. The most important thing [against Arsenal] was the confidence and ability in the team. Align that with the pressure and intensity, bring [Daniel] Sturridge back in January, and hopefully we will be getting back to the team we have been.”

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Martin Skrtel, complete with bandage, re-enters the pitch

Rodgers said that he felt Sanchez had “dived” to win the free-kick against Steven Gerrard that led to the first Arsenal goal. “I didn’t think it was a free-kick,” he said. “Sanchez dived when he knew he wasn’t going to get the ball … but when it came in we had three against three and we have to better. It is not about organisation, it is about winning duels in the box.”

He added: “We played better and dominated more than we did last year when we won 5-1. I thought we were brilliant … to concede three shots on target to one of the leading teams in European football at keeping the ball. I started to see the pressure and intensity returning. We do a lot of work, religiously, on organisation and set-up and you could see that in the pressing. The goals we gave away were poor goals.”

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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser

Skrtel said that despite the late equaliser, his team should have won. "Obviously we wanted to get the three points but being down one goal and to equalise in the last minute is good, but we are disappointed we couldn't win. It was a great cross from Adam [Lallana] and I had a header before, but I've been waiting quite a while for a goal so I'm really happy.”

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