May 24 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe at the Emirates Stadium
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Arsene Wenger insists his Arsenal side are of the highest quality despite defensive frailties proving their undoing as they had to fight back from two goals down at the Emirates last night to secure a point in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Fortunately the Gunners did not slip behind in the race for a Champions League place and remain just four points adrift of fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham, who drew 1-1 at Norwich.
Luis Suarez gave Liverpool a fifth minute lead after a series of errors saw the Gunners unable to clear the ball and their woes at the back were added to on the hour when Jordan Henderson bulldozed his way through four defenders, via a chance ricochet, to stroke into an empty net.
But eight minutes later and the Gunners were back on terms after quick-fire strikes from in-form strike partnership Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
That came in a second half when, in an attacking sense, Arsenal were at times sublime, but they still couldn’t complete the turnaround, leaving a sense of what could have been had they been as dominant at the back.
But Wenger backed his young Guns and pointed to a positive future, saying: “This squad is top, top level. We have to learn to trust these players again and to keep faith in them.
“We have signed a bunch of young, English players who have committed to the club for the next four or five years.
“I think there is a lot to come out of this team, but we have to trust and keep faith with them.”
The early goal for Liverpool ensured an open contest, with the visitors playing well on the counter –attack.
Wenger said: “It was a great football game where both teams went for it.
“It was entertainment. We could honestly have lost the game but could have won it by three or four goals difference.
“It shows we created many chances going forward but were nervous defensively. The goals we have conceded show we were nervous from the start. Overall we showed great quality in the offensive period.”
It is not the first time defensive problems have cost Arsenal this term and the Frenchman added: “I believe recent history has an impact on the way we started the game.
“I believe we have to get that out of our minds and focus on playing football and what we want to do to the opposition.
“I believe the quality is there and we have to trust it and forget what happened in the past. What happened in the past, you could see it played in our heads at the start of the game.”
Arsenal were dealt a blow as full-back Kieran Gibbs limped off in the first half with a thigh injury that will take him out of the equation for three weeks.
“Of course it is a big blow because Gibbs was an important player for us going forward and the game we want to play. It’s a shame he’s out for the next three weeks,” Wenger said.
The manager, though, preferred to focus on the positives of a third match unbeaten.
“We can smell something when we combine like we do,” Wenger said, adding: “It was a fantastic effort, overall we know what to do to improve and to keep the positives.
“We have to focus on playing football and what we want to do to the opposition.
“I believe the quality is there and we have to trust it and forget what happened in the past.”
Wenger added: “We are frustrated because we have not won the game.
“Somewhere they can feel they have given everything, there is a certain sense of feeling they have done their jobs, but you want to win games and we didn’t.”