PREMIER LEAGUE: Late drama ensues as Arsenal held by Liverpool
Today we saw one of the most dramatic finishes to a Premier League game between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Two late penalties were awarded, one to either side, as the match finished 1-1 after 102 minutes caused mainly by Liverpool's Jamie Carragher having to be stretchered off just after the hour-mark.
Robin van Persie gave Arsenal some hope in their title chase when he converted from the penalty spot in the 98th minute before Dirk Kuyt came up with the equaliser after play had been allowed to go for a further four minutes.
Nonetheless, the result means that the Gunners are now six points behind league leaders Manchester United with six games remaining whilst the Reds remain sixth after toiling hard all day to keep the home side's attacks at bay.
Venue: Emirates Stadium, North London Crowd: 60,029 Referee: Andre Marriner Yellow cards:ARS - Robin van Persie 90+8', Emmanuel Eboue 90+12' LIV - John Flanagan 30', Martin Skrtel 33', Jonjo Shelvey 76', Lucas Leiva 90+12'
Arsenal made the running in the opening few minutes and came close to an early goal when Samir Nasri's free-kick was met by Abou Diaby's head but the Frenchman could not direct it on target in what was a big let-off for the visitors.
Liverpool were able to ease themselves into the game after the Gunners' frenetic start with Andy Carroll in particular looking dangerous but goalkeeper Pepe Reina had to come up with a vital save in the 12th minute when Theo Walcott tried his luck with a swerving shot from long range down the other end.
Kenny Dalglish had to make an early change when Fabio Aurelio had to be replaced when he hurt his hamstring in the 20th minute with 17-year old Jack Robinson coming on for his first match of the season.
The ball was in the net for the home side right on the 25-minute mark when Cesc Fabregas played a long ball for van Persie with the Dutchman tucking a neat volley away but the linesman had his flag up for off-side, denying Arsenal the opener.
It looked like just a matter of time before the Gunners would score and it almost came on the stroke of half-time when Fabregas played in Emmanuel Eboue but his shot from a tight angle was thwarted by Jay Spearing with the deflection bouncing across the goalmouth prior to the whistle.
Luis Suarez worked his way toward the Arsenal goal early in the second half with the Gunners defenders leaving him to his devices but his left-footed shot from the top of the area was wide of the mark just moments before his strike partner Carroll went down with a knee injury but was able to resume much to the delight of the Liverpool fans.
In what was a stop-start few minutes, Reds veteran Jamie Carragher required a stretcher when he had a clash of heads with teammate John Flanagan and had to be brought off the pitch after being knocked unconscious.
Arsenal were still pushing for a winner but were trying to craft the perfect goal when perhaps they should have pulled the trigger when down the other end, Suarez did just that in the 77th minute but Wojciech Szczesny, back from injury, came up with the save to keep the home side in the contest.
Liverpool were doing their best to keep Arsenal honest at the back and it was Reina again who was the savior when he made a reflex save after Fabregas had played in van Persie but the Spanish keeper came up with the goods before safely holding Bendtner's follow-up volley from the deflection.
With eight minutes added time because of the Carragher incident, there was still for Arsenal to get an elusive winner and it came in the final minute of the match. GOAL Fabregas made a run into the area with the ball bobbling at his feet and as he turned, an unfortunate Jay Spearing took his leg, forcing referee Andre Marriner to point to the spot. Van Persie stepped up and calmly slotted it past Reina, sending him the wrong way and the Emirates Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
But there was more drama as the referee let play go on, allowing Liverpool to win a free-kick on the edge of the area. Suarez's shot hit a strong Arsenal wall but as Lucas Leiva chased down the loose ball, Eboue clattered into his back and Marriner once again pointed to the spot. GOAL Dirk Kuyt was the man for the occasion, firing past Szczesny's left hand with the final kick of the game in the 102nd minute in an outrageous finish which put Arsenal's title hopes in tatters.
Arsenal Wojicech Szczesny (gk - Emmanuel Eboue, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Gael Clichy - Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby (Song 81'), Jack Wilshere (Bendtner 73') - Theo Walcott (Arshavin 73'), Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri
Liverpool Pepe Reina (gk) - John Flanagan, Jamie Carragher (Kyrgiakos 63'), Martin Skrtel, Fabio Aurelio (Robinson 22') - Dirk Kuyt, Jay Spearing, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles - Andy Carroll (Shelvey 71'), Luis Suarez