Keane on target in hard-fought draw

 

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1:  Former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane dealt a fresh blow to Arsenal's fading title hopes as he secured a point for Premier League leaders Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal had striker Emmanuel Adebayor sent off in the second half, which hampered their hopes of finding a winner after Keane's goal had cancelled out Robin van Persie's strike.

Arsene Wenger's men went into the match eight points off the pace, and perhaps more significantly they were — and remain — out of the top four following Aston Villa's win at West Ham.

Despite taking the lead through a fine strike from Van Persie after 24 minutes, it proved a false dawn as the Reds levelled before the break when Keane latched onto a long ball up-field and lashed in a thunderous shot.

Arsenal were forced to play the final 30 minutes with only 10 men after referee Howard Webb showed Adebayor his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

Wenger berated Webb after the game and said Keane should have also been dismissed for an early tackle on Gael Clichy.

"I think it was the wrong decision. I would love to have sendings off like that at home when we get kicked off the park," said Wenger.

"If Adebayor has to go off for that then Keane should have gone off for his tackle on Clichy," said Wenger.

Keane was booked for the tackle on Clichy after 20 minutes, just before the Gunners took the lead.

Samir Nasri, fit again after an ankle problem, chipped a high ball through from just inside his own half towards the edge of the Liverpool penalty area.

Van Persie collected it on his chest before turning two defenders and spinning to fire a right-footed shot into the net.

Liverpool slowly they found some composure and were level three minutes before the break.

The ball was pumped from deep inside the Liverpool half by Daniel Agger and bounced over centre-half Johan Djourou into the path of Keane.

The former Tottenham striker — barracked by sections of the home crowd — let the ball bounce again on into the Arsenal penalty area before blasting it past Manuel Almunia, wheeling away in delight at having silenced the jeers.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas sustained what looked like a knee problem in a tackle with Spanish compatriot Xabi Alonso at the end of the first half, and was unable to continue, with Abou Diaby coming on.

The tempo of the match increased as the hour approached, but it was the visitors who remained in the ascendancy as Agger headed wide following a corner.

Referee Webb then caused a storm when he reduced Arsenal to 10 men after Adebayor was shown a second yellow card for a hefty challenge on Arbeloa, who fell to the ground clutching his face.

To their credit the Gunners responded by pressing Diaby further forwards as they looked to get back in front.

Nasri sent a 25-yard effort wide before a deep corner was whipped across the Liverpool goal from the right.

Almunia saved bravely at the feet of Dirk Kuyt as the visitors pressed for a winner before Agger fired a 25-yard strike just over as both teams had to settle for a point.

Liverpool assistant Sammy Lee hailed Keane after the striker's stunning goal.

"Robbie has been fantastic. He's a good lad and he keeps on plugging away," said Lee, standing in for Rafa Benitez, who is still recuperating after surgery for kidney stones.

"He'll trouble players and teams for any given game so there's no problems with Robbie's confidence and he'll keep on working to try to improve."