Both Arsenal and Liverpool enjoyed a half of dominance at the Emirates Stadium on Monday, but neither side could find a winning goal to take the three points.
The visitors will be the more frustrated having started brightly against a Gunners defense severely weakened by the enforced absences of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, with Calum Chambers enduring a particularly fraught evening.
But, if Arsenal’s defense showed weakness, new goalkeeper Petr Cech showed just why Arsene Wenger was so determined to bring him to the club, twice denying Liverpool superbly in the opening 45 minutes, with Brendan Rodgers’ side also hitting the woodwork twice.
It was a different story after the break as Arsenal dominated, also hitting the post through Alexis Sanchez and working Simon Mignolet on a number of occasions.
A first-half ‘goal’ from Aaron Ramsey which was incorrectly ruled offside will rankle the home side, who are without a win or a goal from their first two home games of the campaign, with any move for Karim Benzema apparently dead after the France striker posted a social network message calling Real Madrid ‘home’.
Liverpool showed their intent early on with Christian Benteke beating the offside trap as Chambers dropped deep, with the Belgium forward turning provider as he squared for Philippe Coutinho, whose effort came back off the crossbar with Cech beaten.
Arsenal had started slowly but Sanchez threatened as he headed Nacho Monreal’s cross over on five minutes before Ramsey saw his effort wrongly chalked off having been slid through by Santi Cazorla – the second time in a week Liverpool have benefited from an incorrect decision by an assistant referee.
Coutinho and Benteke were causing constant problems for Arsenal’s new-look defence and the two combined again with the latter shooting straight at Cech from a tight angle.
Chambers gifted possession to Coutinho, only for Francis Coquelin to make a firm challenge, before the defensive midfielder slid in to challenge Benteke with the striker bearing down on goal.
Liverpool’s captain for the night, James Milner, got the luck of a deflection before testing the Arsenal goalkeeper with a volley.
Coutinho again breached the Arsenal offside trap just after the half-hour mark but this time he was met by a strong challenge from compatriot Gabriel.
Cech has had an unsteady start to life at the Emirates Stadium but he showed just how crucial he can be as he kept out Benteke’s close range shot after good work from Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, with the former Chelsea stopper also getting down low to keep out Firmino’s drive moments later.
Liverpool were getting closer and only Cech was able to keep them from taking the lead as he made a fingertip save to deflect Coutinho’s superb solo effort onto the post.
Arsenal created some chances of their own after the interval, with Sanchez teeing up Olivier Giroud only for the Frenchman to flash a shot well wide of Mignolet’s goal.
A free-flowing move followed as Cazorla fed Sanchez, with the Chilean forward hitting the outside of the post as the hosts took over as the side in the ascendency.
Mignolet pawed away Giroud’s effort before clutching Ramsey’s curled shot, before substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gabriel had late chances to win it for the hosts.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
The best passers for Liverpool tonight have been the Arsenal defence!!! Can't believe how many times they've given the ball away!!#risky
— Chris Adcock (@ChrisAdcock1) August 24, 2015
Petr Cech: 9 (out of 10)
Hector Bellerin: 6
Calum Chambers: 4
Nacho Monreal: 6
Francis Coquelin: 7
Santi Cazorla: 6
Mesut Ozil: 5
Aaron Ramsey: 7
Alexis Sanchez: 6
Olivier Giroud: 6
Theo Walcott: 5
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Simon Mignolet: 7
Nathaniel Clyne: 6
Dejan Lovren: 6
Martin Skrtel: 6
Joe Gomez: 7
James Milner: 6
Emre Can: 6
Roberto Firmino: 7
Philippe Coutinho: 8
Christian Benteke: 7
Jordon Ibe: 5
Jordan Rossiter: 5
Alberto Moreno: 5
Petr Cech: Just pips Philippe Coutinho as he made two marvellous saves to keep his side in the game. Having been criticized since joining from Chelsea, the Czech goalkeeper kept out a close-range Christian Benteke effort before tipping Coutinho’s strike onto the post – also saved well from James Milner on what could have been a difficult night with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny missing.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Petr Cech: Hard to decide between which of his saves was more impressive but, having stopped Christian Benteke from just four yards, he flew to his left to get the slightest touch on Philippe Coutinho’s marvellous solo attempt to touch it onto the woodwork with only replays showing that he got anything at all onto the Brazilian’s strike.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
In the end both managers will see this as a missed opportunit,y but Arsene Wenger would have been hit for six with the news he had lost Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. His mood would not have been helped by Calum Chambers’ first half display, while Brendan Rodgers would have settled for a point as Liverpool dropped further back after the break.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
For the second Monday in succession, it is a dodgy offside decision that had a direct baring on the result. Aaron Ramsey was onside when he swept home his chance in the opening stages and was wrongly flagged. Liverpool benefit once more, having seen Christian Benteke’s winner against Bournemouth given last week despite Philippe Coutinho being offside.
WHO’S UP NEXT?
Newcastle v Arsenal (Premier League, Saturday, August 29)
Liverpool v West Ham (Premier League, Saturday, August 29)
Cech told Sky Sports 1: “When you start with a new club and everything goes wrong, you need to bounce back and this is what I tried to do.
“Today was one those games where I was in the right place at the right times and helped the team overcome a difficult moment in the first half.
“The shot of Coutinho, I saw the ball all the way so I managed to get there.
“With Benteke, I think it was Gabriel who tried to intercept the ball in front of me so I had to wait, I knew I had to be there fast and I got a bit of luck, I closed it down quickly enough.
“The positive thing is the number of chances we created in the second half. It’s hard to believe, with all the chances there were, that the game finished 0-0.”
Arsenal’s clean sheet was a creditable effort in the absence of Mertesacker and Koscielny and Cech said: “Both central defenders couldn’t play and it was a big game.
“There was a bit of pressure on Gabriel and Calum but although Calum made a few bad passes in the first half, they tried to keep their heads up and they battled through.
“The lads who came in did what they could to play well.”
Liverpool boss Rodgers said: “I thought we were outstanding right through the game.
“The first half some of our football was outstanding. Second half we came under a little bit of pressure but I still thought we were a real threat in the game.
“We kept a very good clean sheet but still couldn’t get the win.”
He praised his own keeper as well, adding: “Both goalkeepers made good saves, Simon is an outstanding goalkeeper and he’s made one or two.
“It’s another clean sheet, against a top team, and overall we’re pleased.”
Wenger played down Cech’s heroics as “what you expect from him” but praised his defence’s recovery from a shaky start,
“You have to give credit to Liverpool, they created a bit of an insecure feeling in our defence,” he said.
“It’s a new partnership, they have to settle but that’s understandable. The second half they were much more stable.”