Just when Liverpool thought their wretched recent fortunes could get no worse, former Everton striker Francis Jeffers intervened to rescue a late point for leaders Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at Highbury.
Having struck the goal which revived his side's flagging fortunes last season at Old Trafford, Danny Murphy had earlier seemingly repeated the feat at a time of even greater need.
The midfielder's 70th-minute penalty, following a foul by Sol Campbell on Milan Baros, put Liverpool ahead with 20 minutes left.
And with a determined defensive display having sustained them up to that point, the Anfield club were seemingly on the verge of ending their worst league run for almost 50 years.
Or so they thought.
For that was reckoning without Arsenal's own powers of recovery and when Jeffers, largely an overlooked figure at Highbury this season, came on to replace Sylvain Wiltord, it took him just over 100 seconds to make his impact.
Having been felled inside the Liverpool area, he may not have had the satisfaction of taking the kick himself but Thierry Henry made no mistake as he crashed the ball home from the spot on 79 minutes.
So while Gerard Houllier will be pleased with his side, they still trail nine points behind leaders Arsenal and also lost Michael Owen to an apparent hamstring injury.
Arsenal, meanwhile, extended their lead at the top to five points above Chelsea, who visit Highbury next on New Year's Day.
The home side were frustrated early on as Liverpool's awful recent run ensured their prime concern was survival, meaning a starvation diet of first-half adventure or enterprise.
With Owen going off injured on 33 minutes, their attack had a distinctly lightweight feel with Baros partnered by El Hadji Diouf, while the game completely passed by Bruno Cheyrou.
Liverpool's game plan, however, was simple. Frustrate Arsenal into losing concentration and then attempt to hit them on the break.
And at least in terms of holding the champions at bay in the first half, it worked as Arsenal were smothered in midfield and deprived of space up front.
The home side dominated possession, but their creative spark was dampened and Campbell's headed `goal' was ruled out as he had clambered all over Salif Diao to reach a corner.
Even when Wiltord found the space to spin onto Gilberto's through ball, Chris Kirkland was out quickly to block at his feet.
The Liverpool keeper also saved Campbell's next goal-bound effort, while Henry wasted a clear header.
While his side briefly threatened after the restart, with Cheyrou firing wide, Kirkland was soon called upon again to parry Henry's deflected long-range strike and then recover superbly to tip over Robert Pires' follow-up effort.
Despite the swirling wind and rain, Liverpool were nevertheless finally starting to make a game of it.
That may have given Arsenal the extra space in which to try to hit them on the counter-attack, with Wiltord striking the side-netting.
However, Liverpool came even closer as Diouf's header from just four yards was cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.
The follow-up effort was also blazed over the bar, while the enterprising Baros struck the outside of the post from a tight angle as he pounced on a mix-up between Martin Keown and David Seaman.
Wenger's response was to bring on Bergkamp for Kanu with 24 minutes remaining in a bid to spice up his team's attacking options.
However, after the Dutchman just failed to find Patrick Vieira with a lay-off, Liverpool broke clear as Gerrard's incisive through ball found Baros.
The young striker beat Campbell for pace and the Arsenal defender's desperate lunge saw him concede a penalty as referee Winter relied on his assistant's clearer view before pointing to the spot.
With Owen off, up stepped Murphy, who gave Seaman no chance as he lifted his shot into the roof of the net with 20 minutes left.
Wenger's reaction was to bring on Jeffers to replace Wiltord and the former Everton man had earned his side a penalty just over a minute later as he burst through a gap inside the area.
Referee Winter pointed to the spot after Jeffers had apparently been held back by Riise, with Henry stepping up to blast his penalty down the centre of the goal.
Both sides went in search of victory, with Murphy curling a shot wide, but it was Gilberto who had a shocking miss in injury-time as he shot wide when standing unmarked just six yards out.
Liverpool therefore took pride but only one point from a game that could have reignited their campaign. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain firm title favourites.