Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde complex

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (right) celebrating with team-mate Philippe Coutinho after equalising for their third goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday. The Reds could not take their chances in the first half despite controllin
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (right) celebrating with team-mate Philippe Coutinho after equalising for their third goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday. The Reds could not take their chances in the first half despite controlling the majority of play and their defensive frailties came back to haunt them in the second half despite holding a 2-0 lead after the 52nd minute.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (right) celebrating with team-mate Philippe Coutinho after equalising for their third goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday. The Reds could not take their chances in the first half despite controllin
53rd: Alexis Sanchez pulls one back for Arsenal after going 2-0 down. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (right) celebrating with team-mate Philippe Coutinho after equalising for their third goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday. The Reds could not take their chances in the first half despite controllin
56th: Reds' goalie Simon Mignolet makes a blunder and allows Granit Xhaka to score with a long-range strike.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino (right) celebrating with team-mate Philippe Coutinho after equalising for their third goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday. The Reds could not take their chances in the first half despite controllin
58th: Mesut Ozil dinking the ball over Mignolet for an improbable 3-2 lead from two down in just five minutes. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

Pulsating 3-3 draw a no greater display of both sides' attacking nous & backline flaws

LONDON • It is pantomime season and Liverpool duly served up a trademark beauty and the beast performance as they left north London on Friday with a 3-3 Premier League draw against Arsenal that had their manager Jurgen Klopp unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Had it not been for Roberto Firmino's 71st-minute equaliser, the German would definitely have needed a box of tissues, having watched his side concede three times in five second-half minutes to surrender a two-goal cushion.

"It is difficult to explain, we should be three, four even five-nil up. It feels really strange," Klopp, whose side remained in fourth place in the league and one point ahead of Arsenal, said.

"We had five minutes where we had obvious problems, that's how it is. Individual problems.

"A point at Arsenal is a good result but it feels not too good at the moment. We didn't take all of our chances. Arsenal were not in the game apart from 10 minutes.

"The five minutes were very decisive and difficult to explain, but good to learn from because we need to react differently."

 
SHOT OURSELVES IN THE FOOT
 
It feels not too good at the moment. We didn't take all of our chances. Arsenal were not in the game apart from 10 minutes.
 
JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, ruing not having put the opposition to the sword in a dominant first-half performance.

Klopp's free-flowing side were a delight in the first half and there was a yawning chasm between the sides even if they had only little wizard Philippe Coutinho's headed goal to show for their dominance.

Mohamed Salah's sensational second in the 52nd minute, his 15th of the season, had Liverpool's fans salivating at the prospect of a pre-Christmas feast but then it all turned sour just a minute later.

The defensive gremlins that have undermined Liverpool returned with a vengeance as Arsenal, from out of nowhere, scored three times in five freakish minutes through Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil.

The Reds have now conceded 20 goals on the road, compared to three at Anfield in the league.

And for all the hype around Liverpool's attacking "Fab Four", they have not actually been hugely effective when playing together.

There was, admittedly, the 7-0 home demolition of Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, and a 3-0 home league win over Southampton, but on the other three occasions Liverpool had started with Coutinho, Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane, they have ended up drawing.

One of those, not coincidentally, was a 3-3 draw having been 3-0 up in the Champions League at Sevilla.

The four together, perhaps, are just too attacking, equipped neither to regain possession nor to fall back and break the waves in the event of an opponent surfing a tide of momentum.

Liverpool midfielder and vice-captain James Milner admitted the Reds cannot always afford to play the attacking style Klopp prefers.

"When you are in a position like that at this level, you've got to see the game out. We have got to become more boring," he said.

"There are times in the game when you've got to tighten up and not make those mistakes for five minutes.

"We play such good football going forward and maybe sometimes, we need to switch that off for five or 10 minutes. We need to not try to break all the time."

GOT AWAY WITH IT

We played frozen with fear and not at our level in the first half. The good thing is that overall we did not give up.

ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, conceding his side were not at the races from the start but eventually turned things around.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, admitted the Gunners had been outclassed in the first half, but he was impressed with the way they fought back in the second half to earn a point.

"We played frozen with fear and not at our level in the first half. The good thing is that overall we did not give up," the Frenchman said.

"The spirit is fantastic. On that front, I am proud of the players. It shows a strong mentality.

"I am frustrated at not winning but that is the type of game you want in the Premier League."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde complex'. Print Edition | Subscribe