VAR will have to be removed from football if officials cannot find ways to use the technology more effectively, says former England midfielder Darren Anderton.

The use of video assistant referees has come under the spotlight this season, with a series of high-profile errors marring games in the Premier League and across Europe.

In September, Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool's loss to Tottenham due to a "significant human error" which refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) subsequently apologised for.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta made headlines when he described the decision to allow Newcastle United's winning goal against Arsenal as a "disgrace", while Wolves boss Gary O'Neil said he had "finally turned against VAR" on Monday after Fulham were awarded two highly contentious penalties against his team.

There was also controversy in the Champions League on Tuesday as Newcastle's Tino Livramento was harshly penalised for handball, allowing Kylian Mbappe to score a stoppage-time equaliser from the spot as Paris Saint-Germain rescued a 1-1 draw against the Magpies.

While Anderton believes VAR was brought in for the right reasons, he cited frustrating delays after goals and repeated mistakes as reasons why many wish to see the back of it.  

"I would have [liked VAR] in the FA Cup semi-final in 1993 when I got brought down!" Anderton, who was part of a Tottenham side beaten by Arsenal on that occasion, told Stats Perform.

"I think it's a good thing and the idea of it is good, to make the right decisions, but it's not happening and that's a problem. 

"There is nothing better than scoring a goal and you should be able to celebrate it and not worry that it's going to be chalked off.

"I feel like it's almost at a point now that whenever there's a goal scored, you're looking for something for it to be ruled out. I think that's sad. 

"I think that's sad for players to have to be that way because the adrenaline of scoring a goal in a Premier League game or for your country... there is no better feeling. 

"If it's taken away, it's taken away, but when you've got to stand there for three minutes, four minutes, you've got to be able to celebrate those moments. They're what you play the game for. 

"So unless it gets better, they're going to have to get rid of it, and that's wrong, because you do want the right decisions in football games."

While the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has been discussing expanding VAR's remit to include other incidents such as yellow cards and corners, Anderton has a different idea.

He suggested VAR should be part of a challenge system similar to that used in the NFL, saying: "I don't know whether you just go to a point where now, like in American football, managers get a challenge. 

"You get two or three challenges in the match so it doesn't become a hundred-minute football match. It's pretty crazy, and it's frustrating to watch. I'm with everyone on that."

Pep Guardiola has warned Arsenal will not give up on their bid to deny Manchester City a third successive Premier League title.

After a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired City thrashed Arsenal 4-1 on Wednesday, Guardiola's men sit two points behind the faltering leaders with two games in hand.

Arsenal are not in action again until they host Chelsea on Tuesday, meaning City have the opportunity to go top of the table when they visit Fulham on Sunday.

With Arsenal only taking three points from their last four league games and City winning their last seven, some have declared the title race to be over, despite the Gunners leading the way.

Guardiola, however, is adamant City still have work to do.

Asked about the importance of going top at Friday's pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: "Psychologically, it's important, but its more the fact it depends on us, we don't have to look at anything except performing as well as possible to win games.

"People start saying they have a feeling that it's over. It's not over. It will be over when it's over. In every single game, our opponents play for special things.

"I know what happened when we played at the Emirates, we won and everybody was happy, people saying we had already caught them. Then we went to Nottingham Forest and drew – it was a fantastic game, but we drew.

"If we do our job, we will be close. But we'll take nothing for granted. We're happy, of course, for the last few games, but that's all.

"I know it's not 20 games left, it's seven games. But seven games is seven games, it's a lot, considering we have the Champions League around the corner."

Arsenal's chastening defeat at the Etihad Stadium was the Gunners' 12th in succession against City in the top flight, with Guardiola's men winning those matches by an aggregate score of 33-5.

While that result has the potential to be a knockout blow after Mikel Arteta's team were held by Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, Guardiola believes Arsenal could yet fight back.

"I know Mikel perfectly, I think our players know it – they will not give up," he said. "One of their real prizes – to be in the Champions League next season – is done. They will not give up.

"When you are 10 points in front you can say it's over, but the reality today is we are two points behind. 

"You say we have two games in hand, but we have to be respectful to the teams we have to play, West Ham and Brighton. We have to beat them. If we beat them, I will agree with you, but we still have to play.

"If the championship finished today, they are champions. It's normal, this tendency, because of what we have done in the past, and Arsenal have not been there for a long time. 

"What happened to Arsenal in the last four games can happen to us. People say it's impossible, no. It's possible."

Mikel Arteta will not go down without a fight despite seeing his Arsenal side carved apart by a rampant Manchester City.

Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones and Erling Haaland were on target as Pep Guardiola's side claimed a 4-1 win over the Gunners on Wednesday.

City are now just two points behind the Premier League leaders with two games in hand.

Following City's win, they now have a 92 per cent chance of winning the league, compared to just eight per cent for the Gunners, according to Opta.

Arteta, however, is not giving up hope.

"It's a very difficult night, obviously after the way we lost," he told BT Sport.

"But we have to stand up, look at the bigger picture and the way we are competing toe-to-toe with this team. It's incredible, to be fair, and we want to compete, we're not going to give up.

"There's five games to go, anything can happen and I've seen a lot of things happen over 20 years. You have to believe that, we have to look in the mirror and accept that we have lost against an exceptional team."

City were brilliant throughout.

De Bruyne put them ahead after just seven minutes, before teeing up Stones to add a second on the stroke of half-time.

De Bruyne's second wrapped matters up early in the second half, with Rob Holding striking a consolation before Haaland got in on the act, surpassing Mohamed Salah's record of 32 goals in a 38-game Premier League season in the process.

"We were beaten by the better team, that's for sure," said Arteta.

"They were exceptional and when that's the case, it's difficult to reach that level, and we were nowhere near our level, especially in the first half – when you open that gap, you get punished.

"When you have it in one corner and they kick it 60 yards, they win that duel, they run through you – you have to start competing, winning your duels and all the basic things. We didn't do them in the first half.

"The way we were in the first 20, 30 minutes, they were on top of us, we could not handle the situation. They were being extremely direct, we knew they had the capacity to do that because they can stretch the pitch. We had to compete but we lost it straight away."

Robert Pires has heralded the work of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and believes his former club have "rediscovered their DNA."

Arsenal face Manchester City in a crunch Premier League fixture on Wednesday with the Gunners sitting five points ahead of their rivals, though defeat at the Etihad Stadium will mean Pep Guardiola's side move to within two points with two games in hand.

Regardless of the result, Pires – winner of two league titles with Arsenal – believes their progress should still be celebrated as they continue on an upward trajectory since Arteta's appointment.

"Arsenal are becoming a great English club again," he said, speaking to Le Parisien.

"They're fighting for the title and rediscovering their DNA – playing beautiful football, one which also allows us to see young talents to emerge, like Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.

"It's everything that Arsene Wenger put in place when he arrived at the club. He wanted people to be inspired by him and play beautiful football. 

"These days, Arteta, who played under him before becoming Guardiola's assistant, has managed to bring that back. Arsenal are back up on their feet and that's why I like watching this team play. 

"You can compare their style of play to that of Lens or Marseille in Ligue 1 – these are teams that constantly attack. Of course there are weaknesses, but this tendency to attack is what we want to see more of in football."

Arsenal are winless in their last three games after draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton, while City remain unbeaten in their last 16 in all competitions.

Arteta's men are set to be without influential centre-back William Saliba through injury, with Pires adamant that squad depth may ultimately hinder Arsenal's title charge. 

"That's the main difference between the two squads," he said. "City's is much deeper and more powerful than Arsenal's. Mikel Arteta has often played with the same 12 or 13 players.

"They're a younger team, they have less experience, and that can be difficult when you have to go and get a title. The last two months are difficult. Everyone keeps telling you that you're going to win, there's tension, you're more and more nervous. You can get tripped up."

Pep Guardiola does not believe Wednesday's clash with Arsenal will decide the outcome of the Premier League title race but wants Manchester City to take destiny into their own hands.

City, who have booked their place in the last four of the Champions League and the FA Cup final, will move within two points of Arsenal, with two games in hand, should they beat the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal have drawn their last three league games, while City have won 11 of their previous 12 outings across all competitions.

Asked if there was a reason behind City's menacing form, Guardiola told reporters: "When, early in the season, we lost games, people said it was physicality, that it was not good – that is, bulls***.

"Many things are involved in a game. We know now if we lose games, the situation will be over, so that's why when you are in October, November, you cannot have that feeling, especially after back-to-back championships.

"In the year when we won our first title [2017-18], when we got 100 points, we started the season like every game is a final.

"When we started this season after back-to-back Premier League titles, we did not have that feeling, every game was not a final. Now it is.

"Now we have arrived with the chance in our heads. If Arsenal win, the destiny is in their hands, but if we win, the destiny is in our hands."

 

On whether Wednesday's encounter was the decisive game in the title race, Guardiola said: "It's really important. Not decisive because still many tough games for both sides but we cannot deny how important it is.

"When you play these kind of teams, it is about everything. Arsenal have always had incredible details and care on the ball, all the players they select to play for the club have the biggest quality, biggest skills.

"Mikel [Arteta] has brought another dimension, they are big competitors, so aggressive. They control a lot of aspects. This isn't anything new. In the two games we've played this season, we felt it, and you have to challenge them or with the speed, intensity they have and quality they have in the build-up, it's difficult."

Arteta said his team will need to be "perfect" to beat City, though Guardiola does not see perfection as being attainable.

"Perfection doesn't exist in football, you cannot be perfect in the game," he said. "We know what happened against Bayern Munich and in the future against top teams, your standard has to be really high.

"They demand to be really good, so we have to do what we can to impose our game."

Mikel Arteta reminded Manchester City that Arsenal still hold top spot in the Premier League and will not let relinquish it without an almighty fight as the top two prepare for an Etihad Stadium battle.

The Arsenal manager explained how City old boys Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus have been adamant the Gunners are title material since joining in the close season.

That has helped to feed positivity around the team, and it remains in place despite Arsenal drawing their last three games to allow second-placed City to narrow the gap.

Arsenal's lead stands at five points, with City having two games in hand, plus Pep Guardiola's team have home advantage on Wednesday.

Defender William Saliba misses out through injury, and Granit Xhaka is a doubt, and Arteta is wrestling to get the best out of a team who have been paying for errors in recent weeks.On the eve of the game, Arteta said his players should still believe.

"One hundred per cent," Arteta said. "But we knew from the beginning that City were the team to beat, probably with Liverpool because of what those teams have won in the last six, seven years.

"We were the ones that wanted to be closing that gap as much as we possibly could.

"We are toe-to-toe with them. We knew we had to go to the Etihad. We know that after that we have another five difficult games.

"That game is going to be really important, but is it going to define the season? The answer is no.

"If we win tomorrow night, we haven't won the league that's for sure. It will shift a little probably, the percentage, but five games in this league with the games we still have to play, very tricky still.

"The belief is there. We really want it, and we're going to show that again tomorrow night. But then you have to deliver in the right moment, the right performance, and it has to be perfection.

"It's going to be a tough night and challenge, but the opportunity is incredible for us. We knew from the beginning that if you want to win the Premier League you have to go to Spurs and you have to beat them. You have to go to Chelsea and beat them. This is what we've been doing, and that's why we are here.

"Now we go to City, and we have to beat them. If you want to be champions you have to win those matches, it's as simple as that."

 

It helps that Arsenal have title winners in Zinchenko and Jesus within their ranks.

"For sure. The experience is key when you've been in those moments, to handle those moments and understand the importance of certain things," Arteta said.

"When they came in, after two or three weeks they said we can win the league. It's been going on since August. This process has been coming for a long time."

Arteta, a former assistant coach at City, said he has not spoken to Guardiola recently, and it will be pure business between the former colleagues on Wednesday.

Arsenal need to stop Erling Haaland, but they will be aware threats come from all quarters with City, exemplified by Riyah Mahrez hitting an FA Cup semi-final hat-trick at the weekend.

"Obviously we are working on their threats as well as working on their weaknesses, and we know what they are," Arteta said. "You have to control every single one.

"Let's focus on us. We know what they want to do, what they're going to try to do. They can do so many things. You have to focus on certain principles to try to take the game where you want."

Reminding his players of their position, Arteta pointed to Arsenal still being firmly in the race for the title, even as the focus shifts to City's recent scorching form.

"They build up this incredible form and look where we are in the table still, so that means we've been as well in incredible form, and that's why we are where we are," the Arsenal boss added.

Looking at the challenge of handling Haaland, the Premier League's 32-goal top scorer, Arteta said: "When you look at the numbers, there's no comparison with anybody else. He's able to produce that because the set-up is done in the right way for him. Preventing the source is something that is probably the best recipe."

Mikel Arteta insisted Bukayo Saka will take Arsenal's next penalty, despite the England international failing from 12 yards in last weekend's 2-2 draw with West Ham United.

Saka, who had been successful from both his previous spot-kicks this season, shot wide at the London Stadium, with his miss proving costly as the title-chasing Gunners surrendered a 2-0 lead.

It was the 21-year-old's first failed attempt from 12 yards since Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma infamously denied him in the Euro 2020 final 21 months earlier.

Nevertheless, Arteta was full of praise for Saka, who he is confident can use the setback to his advantage during the title run-in, which resumes against bottom side Southampton on Friday.

"He loves responsibility, but he puts a lot on his shoulders as well," the Spaniard said during his pre-match press conference.

"Again, if he had any doubt about how much people love him, respect him and admire him at the club, I think he had a very overwhelming reaction from everyone in the building and the club.

"In the end, I think it can be something very positive that can give him a big lift because everyone acted in an unbelievable way towards him. He deserves it because of the way he is."

When asked if Saka would step to the spot again, Arteta replied: "Yes. If not, I will go on the pitch and pass him the ball and make sure he takes the next one."

Arsenal are four points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, at the Premier League summit, with Saka playing an instrumental role in his side's season.

The winger has been directly involved in 22 goals (scored 12, assisted 10) with only Gabriel Martinelli (14) netting more for the Gunners, while Kevin De Bruyne (15) is the only player to provide more assists in the English top flight.

Southampton are "running out of time" in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League, so says Ruben Selles.

Saints sit bottom of the table, four points from safety, ahead of a meeting with league leaders Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Selles took over from Nathan Jones earlier in 2023 and, after initially managing an upturn in fortunes, has now seen his side go winless in their last six games.

"It has been desperate from the very first second," Selles told reporters. "The only thing is we are running out of time and the games are less and less.

"We had some good performances but we didn't transform those into points and hopefully we can change and then start to get some points together with some good performances.

"If we play our game and put in the performance that we need, we have options to win the game.

"We have a good team in front [of us] but almost every week we have good teams in front."

 

Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead against West Ham last time out, drawing 2-2, with Manchester City now just four points behind the Gunners with a game in hand.

Bukayo Saka missed a penalty just before West Ham's equaliser, but Mikel Arteta believes the England international can turn that into a positive situation.

Arteta said: "That's the way he is and he loves responsibility, but he puts a lot on his shoulders.

"If he had any doubt about how much people love, respect and admire him at the club, he had a very warm reaction from everybody. In the end it could be something very positive, everyone acted in an unbelievable way towards him because he deserves it.

"I'll make sure he takes the next one."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arsenal – Gabriel Jesus

Gabriel Jesus has scored nine Premier League goals this season – with Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Saka already each scoring 10+, this could be just the second season to see four players reach double figures for the Gunners in the competition, after 2012-13 (Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott).

Southampton – James Ward-Prowse

Ward-Prowse has scored nine goals in all competitions for Southampton this season and could reach double figures for the second time in his career following his 11 last term. Six of his nine goals this season have come away from home, with four of those strikes coming in London.

 

MATCH PREDICTION: ARSENAL WIN

Arsenal have never lost in 23 Premier League home games against Southampton (W16 D7), the most one side has hosted another without ever losing in the competition.

The Gunners are also unbeaten in their last 27 home league games against Southampton (W19 D8) – in their league history, only against Fulham (current run of 30) have they had a longer unbeaten home run.

The side bottom of the table has won just four of their 38 Premier League meetings with the league leaders (D6 L28), losing 14 of their 15 such games away from home (D1). 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Arsenal – 67.3 per cent

Southampton – 12 per cent

Draw – 20.7 per cent 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta concedes it is still too early to determine if William Saliba will be able to feature again this season.

The France centre-back has been absent for all of Arsenal's past four matches after sustaining a back injury in the first half of the Europa League last-16 second-leg draw with Sporting CP last month, which resulted in the Gunners' elimination on penalties.

There had been hope Saliba's recovery was advanced when seen on an exercise bike at training earlier this week, but it would appear such optimism was misjudged.

Saliba will definitely not face Southampton at Emirates Stadium on Friday, and now it would seem there is a chance he does not play again this season for the Premier League leaders.

And with their lead over Manchester City just four points having played a game more, the Gunners need all the help they can get.

"No big news, the picture hasn't changed from last week. Regarding William, we still need to wait a bit more. He's not progressing as quick as we hoped," Arteta told reporters.

"It's delicate and we want to be very certain when we push him that he is ready to absorb the load and the risk that we will take.

"At the moment it's not possible to do."

Arteta was then asked if Saliba could potentially miss the remaining weeks of the season, with the coach unable to put supporters' minds at ease.

"I don't know. It's a bit early to do [come to those conclusions]," he continued.

"Probably next week we will have more certainty. There is some evolution – he's doing more activity, but he's not ready yet to throw him on to the pitch at the level our sessions demand to compete in this league."

Arteta also had a disappointing update regarding Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The Ukraine international was absent for last weekend's 2-2 draw with West Ham due to a groin strain and, despite reports suggesting he was likely to be fit to face Saints, those claims now look wide of the mark.

"We will see with that one as well. It's not certain," Arteta added. "It's a muscular injury and it needs some time to heal, and we are not there yet."

Arsenal's next game after the visit of Saints is a trip to Manchester City on Wednesday, a game that could well decide the fate of the title.

Mikel Arteta rued Arsenal's loss of purpose after they went 2-0 up against West Ham and then blew the chance of victory.

The Hammers hit back to draw 2-2 at London Stadium on Sunday, in a damaging result to Arsenal's title hopes, with Manchester City now just four points behind with a game in hand.

Bukayo Saka's penalty miss early in the second half was compounded by Jarrod Bowen's equaliser two minutes later, as Arsenal surrendered a two-goal lead for the second game running, having previously done so at Liverpool.

Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard put the Gunners 2-0 up inside 10 minutes at West Ham, but Arteta thinks his team grew complacent.

"Very disappointing. The way we started was superb again, we were in total control, then we lost purpose," he told Sky Sports.

"We gave them hope, conceded a terrible penalty, then credit to them. We got on the roller coaster where everything is going, corners and throw-ins, and we never got away from that.

"The purpose we needed for a third and fourth goal, I didn't see it."

Arsenal's lack of focus was exemplified by Thomas Partey's mistake in the build-up to West Ham's first goal, with Declan Rice robbing the midfielder of possession before Lucas Paqueta drew a clumsy challenge from Gabriel Magalhaes.

Saka ultimately missed the chance to restore Arsenal's two-goal advantage when he skewed well wide from the penalty spot following Michail Antonio's handball, but Arteta was philosophical about the youngster's profligacy.

"A player who takes penalties misses penalties, I don't know anyone who hasn't," Arteta said of Saka, before adding Arsenal "can't control" the pressure in the title race.

Captain Odegaard echoed his manager's thoughts, saying: "A lot of the same things to last week – started well, but then we stopped, allowed them to play on their qualities.

"We gave them the game they wanted, we gave them hope, and that's on us. We have to look forward now.

"We started to do a lot of stupid things on the ball, we allowed them to play on the long balls.

 "We have to remember we are still top of the league with everything in our own hands. The same mindset, same mentality to make sure we win the next one."

Arsenal will look to bounce back against Southampton on Friday, before they face City in a potential title decider on April 26.

West Ham, meanwhile, are now four points clear of the bottom three.

"It would have been a good result getting a point anyway, but going 2-0 down and coming back shows great character," Hammers boss David Moyes told BBC Sport.

"The games are coming thick and fast and the players are doing a really good job."

William Saliba will not return from injury when Premier League leaders Arsenal look to get back to winning ways at West Ham on Sunday, Mikel Arteta has confirmed.

Arsenal dropped two valuable points in the title race at Liverpool last time out, with goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino capping a memorable fightback from the hosts in a 2-2 draw.

While the Gunners boast a six-point lead over Manchester City at the summit, they have not kept a clean sheet since defender Saliba was injured in last month's Europa League penalty shoot-out defeat to Sporting CP. 

Saliba has missed Arsenal's last three games with a back problem and will be absent again on Sunday, though Arteta will have striker Eddie Nketiah available for the first time since March 1.

"William is still not available," Arteta said. "He's progressing well and we are hopeful we'll have him available in the next few weeks, but we'll have to see. Eddie is back and is fully fit now.

"We want our players to be as fit as possible and available. We've had some issues, especially in the last few months with some important players. 

"We just want to have everybody fit and available to help the team."

After surrendering fourth place to rivals Tottenham at the end of last season, Arsenal were not viewed as likely title contenders ahead of the current campaign.

However, with just eight games potentially separating Arsenal from their first league title since the 2003-04 season, Arteta will not allow the Gunners to rest on their laurels.

Asked whether he foresaw a title challenge in the earlier stages of his tenure, Arteta said: "Yes. You go day by day. There is so much that happens every single day, every month at a football club. 

"The aim when I took the job was to bring the club back to where it belongs, fighting for and being around every single trophy that is possible at the highest level. That's what we are trying to do.

"We are happy with where we are. Now we have to finish the job and demand an extra bit from everybody."

Ahead of their visit to the London Stadium, Arsenal have won on all five of their trips to fellow London clubs in the Premier League this season, by an aggregate score of 11-0.

Only twice in their league history have the Gunners won a sixth successive London derby on their travels, doing so in February 1989 and March 2014.

Mikel Arteta hailed Aaron Ramsdale for producing "magic moments" that could be pivotal in the Premier League title race after Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday.

The Arsenal goalkeeper produced a trio of expert saves to deny Liverpool a late winner after Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino scored to drag the Reds back into the game from 2-0 down.

Ramsdale denied Darwin Nunez when one-on-one, superbly tipped a deflected Salah curling effort around the post and somehow thwarted Ibrahima Konate from point-blank range in the dying seconds.

Arteta likened Ramsdale's influence to the impact Alisson has had for Liverpool in recent years after the England international starred at Anfield, where Salah missed a second-half penalty.

The Arsenal manager said during his post-match press conference: "You need your goalkeeper if you want to win and be in title races. How many times has Alisson done what he has to do?

"You have to have that, you have to have those magic moments from the keeper. We had some exceptional moments from players today as well and to win at grounds like that, you need that."

The draw leaves the Gunners six points clear of second-placed Manchester City at the Premier League summit, albeit Pep Guardiola's reigning champions have a game in hand.

While Ramsdale stepped up in the decisive moments, the drew could be seen as a missed opportunity for Arsenal after Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus fired the visitors into the ascendancy.

A short trip to London rivals West Ham follows next Sunday for Arsenal, who then host strugglers Southampton before a trip to City on April 29.

Arteta acknowledged the late heartbreak of Firmino's 87th-minute leveller but backed his side to continue responding as they have done all campaign.

He added: "When you concede at the end, you always focus on dropping two points because you have it and you are suffering, but you are relying on certain moments and the feeling is 'Ah, we should have done it!'

"But being fair to ourselves, they had four big chances where they could have scored and [Salah] missed the penalty.

"We will have to look at ourselves in the mirror and we should have done much better in the second half.

"We've been responding for 31 games now. Every single day is a test and the test is now: how good are we going to be on Monday and how well are we going to prepare to beat West Ham and to play the way we want to beat West Ham."

Mikel Arteta called on Arsenal to take their point and move on after the Premier League leaders squandered a two-goal lead to draw with Liverpool, claiming the result was a fair one. 

Arsenal looked set to restore their eight-point lead over title rivals Manchester City when Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus handed the Gunners a comfortable first-half lead.

While Mohamed Salah rolled a penalty wide after pulling a goal back, Roberto Firmino came off the bench to net his 11th Premier League goal against the Gunners – only Harry Kane (14) and Wayne Rooney (12) have more against them in the competition.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the draw, Arteta lamented Arsenal's loss of control following their flying start, but conceded Liverpool deserved their share of the spoils.

"Very intense game. The game was under control but just before half-time we conceded a really sloppy goal and the game shifted momentum," Arteta said.

"We had to reset after half-time and started well in the first few minutes, but then we lost control. It became a very transitional game, very chaotic. 

"Liverpool could have scored three or four. It is true we could have scored two or three, so maybe at the end the score is fair.

"We could take three points. We should have played like the first half for another 15 minutes and then the game would have taken a very different trajectory. We didn't. We have to take the point."

Asked why Arsenal failed to maintain their early dominance, Arteta said: "I haven't seen anybody do that here. Nobody. They [Liverpool] beat every big team here, they played Real Madrid and could have been four up after 20 minutes. 

"They are going to have moments. You need to deal with them and we did. Our goalkeeper had a big part in that."

The result means City are six points behind Arsenal at the summit with a game in hand and a home match against the Gunners – set for April 26 – to come.

Asked what the result meant for the title race, Arteta said: "We have to move on, and convince them to keep playing like we did in the first 30 minutes."

Arsenal are now winless in their last 10 Premier League trips to Anfield, drawing three and losing seven while conceding at least twice in each match.

Liverpool know better than most just how fine the margins are when it comes to Premier League success.

In missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City by one point last season, Jurgen Klopp's men were given a fairly brutal lesson in that regard.

A year on, it's Arsenal hoping to do what the Reds couldn't and beat City to the title, and whichever way their season ends, there is a huge possibility they will look back on Sunday's 2-2 draw at Liverpool as decisive.

You would have been forgiven for predicting an impressively comfortable away win, such were the two teams' respective performances in the first half.

Arsenal resembled the Liverpool of 12 months ago. They were furious in their pressing, electric and incisive on the ball.

Even if you'd seen Arsenal on a regular basis this season, the swagger with which they were playing at such a famously vociferous arena was outstanding, particularly when you also consider their dreadful record at Anfield.

Arsenal had lost each of their previous six away games against the Reds in the Premier League, while they had not won at Anfield since September 2012.

Liverpool, on the other hand, looked lost, confused, almost as if they were suffering from an identity crisis.

Of course, this certainly wasn't an isolated example of such a display, but this was the kind of occasion one expects to bring the best out of Anfield and the Reds.

Diogo Jota looked every inch a player without a goal in over a year as he failed to influence proceedings. Curtis Jones was similarly unconvincing, while Trent Alexander-Arnold was all over the place, struggling in his usual role and then taking up central positions that left gaping holes at the back.

The England right-back was left for dead by Gabriel Martinelli early on and then failed to track Gabriel Jesus at the back post as the striker failed to convert a Bukayo Saka cross.

Of course, by that point Arsenal were already ahead thanks to the lively Martinelli, who made the most of a kind ricochet to dart into the box and prod beyond Alisson in the eighth minute.

It was then 2-0 just before the half-hour mark. Jesus did apply the finish this time, heading in from Martinelli's cross as the Liverpool defence were out of sync once again.

But the contest seemed to flip in the 41st minute, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta's fears of what he described as the Anfield "jungle" becoming reality.

Granit Xhaka was rather innocuously bundled over by Ibrahima Konate, but no free-kick followed, and he reacted with a forceful barge into the back of Alexander-Arnold, appearing to whack him with his forearm.

Alexander-Arnold retaliated with a shove of his own and the two went head-to-head. Referee Paul Tierney issued both a yellow card, but more significantly the incident appeared to get the home crowd engaged finally.

Suddenly there was also fire in the Liverpool ranks, and a minute later Salah nudged home from close range to breathe life into the contest, with Arsenal presumably delighted by the half-time whistle soon after.

That was followed by a downright bizarre incident that could have even helped Liverpool's siege mentality. Assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis appeared to elbow Andy Robertson in the face after being approached aggressively by the left-back, with the Reds left furious.

That fury was channelled well by Liverpool after the break, spending much of the second half in the ascendancy as they sought an equaliser.

Mohamed Salah failed to score it from the spot after a clumsy foul by Rob Holding on Jota, but there was unquestionably a hint of predictability above the leveller three minutes from time as Roberto Firmino headed in from Alexander-Arnold's excellent cross.

An incredible finale was ushered in.

Liverpool piled on the pressure. Aaron Ramsdale denied Darwin Nunez when one-on-one, and then the goalkeeper somehow saved Arsenal as Konate inexplicably failed to chest the ball over the line.

Had it not been for Ramsdale's heroics, Arsenal would have been on the end of a potentially crippling defeat. Not necessarily crippling in terms of a huge deficit, but rather in relation to their mentality and the pressure being applied by City.

Of course, it's easy to look at the result as two points dropped. Considering Arsenal were 2-0 up, many fans – and players – will believe that to be the most apt appraisal of the situation.

But in the end, with an optimist's spin on it, Arsenal should feel happy to get away from Anfield with a point. After all, that's more than they managed in any of their previous six Premier League visits.

To understand the potential value of that point, all they need to do is look at Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta is confident his Arsenal players can cope with the "jungle" atmosphere Liverpool's supporters will generate at Anfield in Sunday's Premier League contest.

Arsenal have won seven Premier League games in a row to retain a healthy lead at the summit, but they have lost each of their past six top-flight visits to Liverpool.

Gunners boss Arteta was captured playing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' during training ahead of Arsenal's most recent trip to Anfield in November 2021, which resulted in a 4-0 loss.

Speaking ahead of his side's latest visit to the red half of Merseyside this weekend, Arteta explained that rather unorthodox ploy.

"You have to prepare the players, you have to tell them what they're going to be facing and you have to recognise that," he said. 

"An error and a mistake comes after an opportunity to do that and develop yourself. You have to expose yourself.

"You cannot train the players in the zoo and then go to the jungle on Sunday. It's impossible."

 

While Liverpool are struggling down in eighth place, 29 points adrift of Arsenal, they have won five of their past six home league games.

The Reds have won the past three of those games by an aggregate 11-0 scoreline and have not conceded at Anfield in their last seven hours and 26 minutes of league football.

But Arteta believes his side, who are looking to complete their first league double over Liverpool since the 2009-10 campaign, can cope with whatever is thrown at them.

"The team is full of enthusiasm and positivity," he said. "We know that we have a big challenge. 

"But it is a big opportunity to go to Anfield and do something we haven't done in many years and that is what [has been] driving the team the last few days."

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