An early four-goal blitz set Liverpool on their way to a 5-1 Premier League demolition at Anfield last weekend, but Arsene Wenger’s men managed to survive another shaky start and opened the scoring after 16 minutes thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Lukas Podolski made it 2-0 for the increasingly confident Gunners early in the second half, but Steven Gerrard reduced Liverpool’s arrears from the penalty spot after Luis Suarez was fouled in the 59th minute.
Suarez had another strong penalty appeal turned down as Liverpool applied the pressure, but Arsenal held on in a thrilling finale to set up a home clash with Everton in the next round.
Wenger’s team selection suggested he had one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich, as seven changes were made and Yaya Sanogo was given his first start.
Brendan Rodgers’ men showed their Premier League title credentials at Anfield and threatened to tear through the Gunners again.
First Gerrard slid a pass through to Daniel Sturridge, who shot into Lukasz Fabianski’s legs when he should have done better.
Then Suarez lofted the ball over a static Arsenal defence and, with angle always becoming more acute, Sturridge fired into the side-netting.
The Reds found themselves behind when they cleared a corner only as far as Mesut Ozil, who turned the ball back into the area.
Sanogo brought it down on his chest and had a shot blocked by Gerrard, but the ball broke for Oxlade-Chamberlain for a composed finish.
Mathieu Flamini, back from a three-match ban, was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Gerrard, becoming the fourth player booked in a feisty first half.
The hosts survived after threatening runs from Raheem Sterling and Suarez, who saw a volley across goal saved by Fabianski.
Arsenal had few moments of respite and had a promising counter-attack brought to an abrupt halt when Gerrard was booked for tripping Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was the hosts’ most-threatening attacker in the first half.
Suarez, with one goal in his previous six games, was denied by the feet of Fabianski in the opening seconds of the second half and was made to pay.
A rapid counter-attack set Oxlade-Chamberlain on a dazzling run down the right and he cut the ball back for Podolski to tuck in.
Still Liverpool looked the more dangerous side. A Suarez shot dipped narrowly over before Ozil forced Brad Jones to save sharply at the other end.
Sturridge was denied by Fabianski before Podolski clumsily tripped Suarez from behind and referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot. Gerrard sent Fabianski the wrong way.
The Poland goalkeeper had to get his timing spot on and did when Sturridge attempted to round him moments later following a defence-splitting Philippe Coutinho pass.
Liverpool appealed for another penalty when Oxlade-Chamberlain mistimed his tackle on Suarez, whose exaggerated tumble meant Webb was unmoved. Replays suggested the official was wrong.
Liverpool introduced Jordan Henderson, who underwent a small operation on a wrist injury on Thursday, and continued to go forward, with Suarez becoming increasingly influential and twice testing Fabianski.
Arsenal were playing on the counter-attack and substitute Santi Cazorla wasted a good opportunity set up by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was then tripped by Gerrard.