LIVERPOOL. — Arsene Wenger couldn’t conceal his frustration after Arsenal’s dramatic 3-3 draw at Liverpool saw the Gunners waste an opportunity to consolidate their position at the top of the English Premier League.
But Wenger claimed Wednesday night’s thrilling contest at Anfield underlined his team’s title credentials as he challenged his players to use their disappointment as a motivation for a first English crown in 12 years.
After chief rivals Manchester City were held at home to Everton, the Arsenal manager saw Joe Allen’s last-minute equaliser cost his team two points to leave them ahead of second placed Leicester only on goal difference.
“I am frustrated by the result and not disappointed by the performance, even if we started a bit apprehensively,” said Wenger.
“The frustration comes from the fact that at 3-2 we had three situations when we could have made it 4-2 and made a bad decision.
“That was a frustration for me but that can happen in England but overall a game between two teams who gave absolutely everything. Look at the results tonight it showed everywhere is even.
“I feel they need to transform that frustration into more motivation for the next game because there are more positives than negatives tonight.
“What happened tonight strengthened my belief we can have a big part to play in this league.”
But two-goal Olivier Giroud blamed Arsenal’s lack of strength at the end for costing them the chance to maintain their two-point lead at the top of the table.
Giroud said: “It was a nice game for the fans because there was a lot of intensity, a lot of chances to score.
“But when you concede three goals in an away game, it’s hard to win.
“So we should have been stronger until the end because we did well in the second half.”
Wenger hopes he can bolster his team before the weekend visit to Stoke, traditionally a tough fixture for his team, with the injured Alexis Sanchez and new signing Mohamed Elneny both potentially in contention.
“I am a bit cautious now,” said Wenger of Sanchez and his hamstring injury.
“There is an opportunity he will be involved in the squad on Sunday. Friday and Saturday will be two important days.
“Elneny has joined us and we will see if he can qualify for Sunday.”
Liverpool twice led with goals through Roberto Firmino only for Aaron Ramsey and Giroud to cancel them out on each occasion.
The impressive Giroud gave Arsenal a second half lead but Allen netted in the 90th minute to earn Liverpool a point.
The game also featured a verbal exchange between Wenger and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on the touchline, although both made light of the incident after the game.
“I told him to just calm down or I will send you to stands,” joked Wenger.
“I don’t know really why. At Liverpool it is very tight, you are very close to each other.
“He had a little problem with the fourth official, he can explain better than I. It was all right. There was no bad feeling.”
Klopp has made a habit of asserting his larger than life personality on proceedings in the Premier League and was recently involved in a war of words with Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce.
“I told Arsene why I was a little bit emotional,” said Klopp. “Like we say in Germany, I was on the tree. It was a clear throw-in for us in a good moment, a good phase.
“The fourth official, I asked what he was doing. I said what I said, he said what he said. We had nothing, but I had nothing with Sam Allardyce. I had nothing with Arsene Wenger.
“I said what I said, obviously it was too much and he told the ref and after five minutes he came and spoke.”
Kop boss Klopp also said: “I think 60-70 per cent of the game we played really, really well, the players did well.
“We had opportunities, we made big problems for Arsenal and made the goals but we gave two easy goals to be honest.
“In the end we made a really good game but we needed a big part of luck to make the draw.
“We did it and I think we deserved it in a spectacular game.
“We can be satisfied, a point against Arsenal is okay but a few situations in the game we thought we could win, but we could have lost.
“Of course it’s like a battery. In the beginning it is full and you play well, then it goes lower for both teams.
“It’s difficult – rain, snow, everything.” — AFP.