London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Unai Emery is happy with his side’s progress, but admits there is still work to do to match Liverpool’s title challenge after a thrilling 1-1 draw between the sides on Saturday.
Alexandre Lacazette extended the Gunners unbeaten run to 14 games with an equaliser eight minutes from time to cancel out James Milner’s opener as Liverpool edged a point clear of Manchester City at the top of the table.
Arsenal remain four points behind the leaders. However, it is the first time Emery has avoided defeat against a Premier League top six opponent having been handed a baptism of fire in losing to Manchester City and Chelsea in his first two matches in charge.
“Against Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool – these are three teams in front of us (in the table) and you can see how three different matches we played,” said Emery. Today is a more complete game for us.”
Emery’s Sevilla beat Liverpool in the final of the Europa League in their first season under Jurgen Klopp in 2016.
But the Spaniard believes Liverpool’s progress since is an example for Arsenal to follow.
“They can win the Premier League this season. They play the final of the Europa League three years ago and last season they were in the final of the Champions League,” added Emery. “They are a very good example for us.
“For the supporters it is a great match and a good spectacle, but I am only 50 percent happy because we wanted to win.”
In contrast to their last visit to the Emirates when they conceded three times in five minutes nearly a year ago, Liverpool needed to show their new-found defensive resolve as a confident Arsenal started and finished the brighter.
– ‘Too easy’ –
“It was very intense. It was clear Arsenal was in a very good moment,” said Klopp. “We made life too easy for them.”
Alisson Becker spread himself well to block from Lacazette before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s deflected effort from the edge of the area flew just wide early on.
Granit Xhaka fired too close to Alisson from a well-worked corner, but the Brazilian international was fortunate when he rushed from his goal and was beaten to a floated cross by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose header drifted inches wide.
However, Liverpool also had plenty of chances in a thrilling first-half that somehow lacked only goals.