Arsenal and Liverpool play out error-strewn draw at Emirates

Arsène Wenger’s side cannot expect to win the Premier League by playing so chaotically

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

This was Arsenal at their most bewildering. They were startlingly poor for so long Liverpool will have to consider this result a source of regret. Arsène Wenger's men demonstrated their worst traits and cannot expect to win the Premier League by playing so chaotically. Yet they could also claim, legitimately, they would have won but for a trigger-happy linesman. It was a perplexing and error-strewn match, full of missed chances and misplaced passes, and neither team can really be satisfied with the outcome.

For Liverpool, there were so many opportunities inside the first half they really ought to have punished Wenger's team for leaving themselves so open and losing the ball with staggering frequency. Petr Cech made amends in those moments for his mistakes against West Ham and, ultimately, his goalkeeping was enough to prevent his new club losing their opening two league games at home for the first time since 1949.

Equally, Arsenal can reflect on the first-half goal was that wrongly disallowed for Aaron Ramsey, or the chance for Olivier Giroud aimed too close to Simon Mignolet during a late onslaught, and it finished, almost implausibly, with their first clean sheet of the new season. As goalless draws go, it was wild and eccentric but maybe not such a bad result for Arsenal given how fragile they looked missing Laurent Koscielny because of a back injury and Per Mertesacker due to a virus.

Arsenal had not started a Premier League game with both their regular centre halves missing for 1,225 days and perhaps it was just inevitable there would be times when a new-look defence might look vulnerable. Even so, it was startling to see how susceptible they were. Calum Chambers passed the ball straight to Philippe Coutinho inside Arsenal's own penalty area at one point and there were plenty of other moments when the home side looked raw and accident-prone. Even allowing for their absentees, their lack of organisation, carelessness in defence and tendency to make life difficult for themselves must have been a cause for deep unease for Wenger.

It was rare to see any side, let alone with title credentials, give the ball away so frequently inside their own half and, for Chambers, it was a personal ordeal. He was a danger to his own team in the worst moments and his regression, after a bright start to his Arsenal career, left the impression his confidence was almost broken.

Coutinho had struck the crossbar inside the opening three minutes. Another peach of a shot later in the first half came off the post, via Cech’s fingertips, and it was only Francis Coquelin’s saving tackle that denied the Brazilian a clear run at goal after the early Chambers mistake.

Coquelin was fortunate shortly afterwards when his sliding tackle took down Christian Benteke on the edge of the penalty only for the referee, Michael Oliver, to wave play on.

Yet, for all Liverpool's pressure, the greater sense of injustice at half-time was Arsenal's and Wenger was certainly entitled to think the game might have taken a different pattern had the linesman Simon Bennett not ruled out what was, in reality, a perfectly legitimate and brilliantly executed goal.

At this level, it was a wretched piece of officiating. Aaron Ramsey had timed his run perfectly and the pass from Santi Cazorla was weighted to perfection.

Ramsey beat Mignolet with a low shot and Liverpool, for a second consecutive week, were the grateful recipients for an inaccurate offside decision.

Reprieved, Liverpool returned to the business of exploring all the holes in Arsenal’s defence. Benteke was a difficult opponent for Chambers and Liverpool had so many chances inside the opening 45 minutes they must have been exasperated not to have made their superiority count.

For that, Arsenal were indebted to some exceptional goalkeeping from Cech and, in particular, one moment when he kept out Benteke with the kind of save that only the elite members of his profession could pull off.

Héctor Bellerín, the right back, had given the ball away this time. Roberto Firmino crossed from the left and Benteke was inside the six-yard area when he connected with the ball. Cech's reflexes were staggering. His left hand jutted out, and that touch was enough to take the ball away from the goal.

Arsenal did start to take better control of the ball after the interval, when their opponents operated on the counter-attack rather than flooding forward as they had done earlier.

Liverpool, with James Milner excelling, still looked dangerous on the break but Arsenal were at least reminding everyone now they were supposed to be the home side and, on the hour, one of their crisp passing exchanges ended with Olivier Giroud turning Cazorla's low centre into Alexis Sanchez's path and his shot ricocheting off the outside of the post.

The pressure on Liverpool's goal was considerable during the final stages but Martin Skrtel's brilliant clearance denied the substitute Theo Walcott a late chance and a chaotic, perplexing game was unable to find a goal.

(Guardian service)