Liverpool maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season as they played out a thrilling goalless draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
In a game littered with chances, brilliant goalkeeping and defensive mistakes, it was almost beyond belief that neither side could carve out a victory and deliver an early psychological blow among the contenders at the top of the table.
Liverpool dominated the first half but found Petr Cech in magnificent form as the former Chelsea goalkeeper saved miraculously from Christian Benteke and turned Philippe Coutinho’s shot on to a post.
Coutinho also struck the bar in the third minute – and while Arsenal’s opportunities were few, they were furious that Aaron Ramsey’s early strike was ruled out for offside.
Arsenal regrouped and dominated much of the second half, Alexis Sanchez hitting the post and Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet producing a fine reflex save from Olivier Giroud.
The Reds will be delighted with a third successive clean sheet on the back of victories against Stoke City and Bournemouth, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be equally pleased by the character shown by his side after a difficult first half.
Cech shows his worth
When Arsenal bought Cech for £10m from Chelsea in June, the instant wisdom was that his presence alone could be worth an extra 10 points to the Gunners.
Time will tell, but this was the night when the 33-year-old showed just how important a signing he could be as the Gunners try finally to mount a serious Premier League title challenge.
Cech was castigated to an exaggerated degree after a poor debut in the home defeat by West Ham, but he was magnificent here when Liverpool laid siege to his goal in the first half.
He spread himself brilliantly to turn away Benteke’s close-range effort when it seemed certain the Belgium striker would score, then showed he still retains the old athleticism to stretch and tip Coutinho’s curling shot against an upright.
If any Arsenal fans harboured doubts about his purchase, this was a display to dispel them.
Coutinho plus Benteke equals danger
When Liverpool almost won the title in 2014, it was spearheaded by the superb attacking triumvirate of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
Liverpool floundered last season with Suarez at Barcelona, Sturridge injured and Sterling disaffected and out of sorts before his £49m move to Manchester City.
While there can be no comparisons with that trio, there are so many signs of promise in the understanding already established between Coutinho and £32.5m summer signing Benteke.
Coutinho’s darting runs and fast footwork are dangerous on their own while also looking for an outlet in Benteke, whose easy movement shows he is so much more than a big target man.
They have shown Liverpool can offer a different type of threat this season – and manager Brendan Rodgers will face an intriguing conundrum when Sturridge finally declares himself fit.
Will either of these teams be title contenders?
Top four is more realistic for both and they don’t look like threatening Manchester City on this very early evidence.
Liverpool, however, will be delighted at maintaining their recovery from the trauma of last season, with a third successive clean sheet and more signs that confidence is slowly returning.
Arsenal showed great spirit to recover from a first half in which their defending was horrendous to have the better of the second.
It should be placed in context by the fact they were robbed of their first-choice central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker through illness and Laurent Koscielny with a back injury.