LIVERPOOL, January 14 – 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 Premier League.
But Wenger claimed Wednesday’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.”
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 Olivier Giroud to cancel them out on each occasion.
– Verbal exchange –
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.”
The German was far happier and more forthcoming when discussing the form of Brazilian Firmino, however, after he scored his first home goals for the club.
“I could talk about this for half an hour,” he said. “He doesn’t know how good he is. If you are good, you have to show it.
“All of them were really good, perfect goals, the first goal was really good, the second spectacular, brilliant. He had a really good game, but he was not the only one.”