Arsenal left 'paralysed' in nightmare first half vs. Liverpool - Wenger

LONDON -- Arsene Wenger was left rueing "a nightmare first half" after Friday's thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool, when the Gunners fought back from 2-0 down but couldn't hold on to a second-half lead.

Wenger said his players were "paralysed" and "frozen" in the opening 45 minutes, as Liverpool went ahead 1-0 through Philippe Coutinho and easily could have been up by two or three at the break.

After Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, Arsenal then waged a stunning comeback with three goals in five minutes -- only for Roberto Firmino to level things up again.

"That's the frustration on the night," Wenger said about letting the win slip away. "But on the other hand, to be completely honest it could have been game over at half-time.

"Because we had a nightmare first half. We played too far from each other, not compact enough, not composed enough. At half-time, we could have been punished more."

Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil all scored for the Gunners during their five-minute surge, but Petr Cech then failed to palm away Firmino's shot as the ball looped into the net.

Wenger, though, rejected the notion that he should have parked the bus at 3-2.

He said: "I don't know what you mean by parking a bus. I don't know who created this expression, but it has not a lot to do with football.

"We defended well. But you know with their quality going forward, they can always score a goal. I must give credit to the players because even at 2-0 we didn't give in, and we've shown again great spirit to come back.

"It's true that I'm frustrated after 3-2 that we couldn't keep the result. But overall, what can you say? It was a fantastic game, with quality going forward on both sides. Us more on quick combinations, them more on fantastic counter-attacking pace.

"That's why it was always an interesting game."

Wenger also singled out Jack Wilshere for praise after the game and hinted that a contract extension for the midfielder could be completed in the coming weeks.

"I think he was one of the players who played with quality even in the first half, with determination. You know Jack is never frozen," Wenger said. "He's better now than he was in the last two, three years. It's positive overall, he's in a very good shape."

Wilshere has only recently been included in Wenger's Premier League lineups thanks to Aaron Ramsey's injury, but may have done enough to earn a new contract. His current deal expires next summer, and Wenger had said he must prove his fitness before January to earn a new contract.

Asked if a deal may be sorted out soon, Wenger said: "It might. We'll see."