The Gunners entered the game seven points behind leaders Manchester United and started brightly as they looked to close the gap, Abou Diaby heading just wide after beating his marker to a Samir Nasri free-kick.
The visitors were dealt a setback on 21 minutes when Fabio Aurelio was forced off with injury and the Reds’ new-look defence, which featured teenage full-backs Jack Robinson and John Flanagan, then survived a scare when Laurent Koscielny clattered the crossbar with a header.
Theo Walcott’s appeal for a penalty was waved away after his shot appeared to strike the arm of Kuyt, and Martin Skrtel then got in the way of an Emmanuel Eboue effort as the two teams entered the break on level terms.
Liverpool were dealt a further injury blow when Jamie Carragher suffered a head injury in a collision with team-mate Flanagan, and the veteran defender needed lengthy treatment before going off.
Luis Suarez fired just wide with a rare chance for the Reds as the second half unfolded, while at the other end Robin van Persie was off-target with a chipped effort before heading another chance wide.
Reina then saved well from the Dutchman in a one-on-one situation as frustration grew at the Emirates Stadium, but the tension was finally lifted eight minutes into added time when van Persie coolly slotted home a penalty after Jay Spearing tripped Cesc Fabregas.
However, there would be even more drama when Eboue needlessly bundled over Lucas Leiva to gift Liverpool a penalty of their own, and Kuyt celebrated his contract extension by keeping his nerve to fire home the equaliser with the last kick of the game.