To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
14 Dec 2009 10:00
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the English Premier League title race is wide open again after seeing his side come from behind to beat Liverpool 2-1 here at Anfield.
Sunday’s victory saw the Gunners regain third place and left them just six points behind leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand.
Arsenal fell behind to Dirk Kuyt’s goal four minutes before half-time but the visitors hit back early in the second half through Glen Johnson’s own-goal.
Andrey Arshavin’s sublime strike then sealed a victory which gave Arsenal, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea after the Blues won 3-0 at the Emirates last month, fresh hope of mounting a title challenge.
Wenger, who feels there is no outstanding team in English football’s top flight this term, said: “It gets us back into a good position. Mentally for us it was a massive game.
“We knew that with what happened on Saturday [Chelsea were held to a 3-3 draw by Everton and second-placed Manchester United, now only three points in front of Arsenal, were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa], we needed to win the game.”
The Frenchman added: “We knew that before the game started and we did it so that’s something positive but now it’s down to consistency.
“I’ve said for a long time now that the team that wins this league is the team that’s consistent and nobody has been yet.”
Wenger tore into his players at half-time at Anfield, with key midfielder Cesc Fabregas claiming he had never seen the manager so angry.
But the Gunners boss feels he got the right response after detecting a ‘fear factor’ amongst his players in matches against their ‘Big Four’ rivals—Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
“We played with the handbrake down through fear of not winning the big games because we lost against Chelsea and Man United and you could see that we brought that into the game.
“I never speak about what I say in the dressing room because I believe you respond to what you think your team needs and I always try to be composed.
I was quite composed!,” Wenger joked.
“It is good because after 13 years I can still surprise the players.”
Defeat meant Liverpool had lost in the league six times already this season and left the Merseysiders, already out of this season’s Champions League, in seventh place and five points adrift of the top four finish they’ll need to qualify for next term’s premier European club competition.
But Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insisted a top four placing was still in his team’s sights.
“The people are disappointed and the players are disappointed and we have to start working with them and doing things the right way,” Benitez said.
“The only thing is to keep working.
He added: “The target is the same; the top four.
Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed he is considering taking legal action against the Netherlands Football Association over the ankle injury suffered by striker Robin van Persie on international duty.
The forward is set to miss several months after suffering the injury in last month’s friendly with Italy and Wenger wants clubs to have the same rights for friendlies as for competitive matches.
If a player gets injured in a competitive international, his club can receive compensation but that is not the case when it comes to friendlies.
“Our players go away for friendlies and they come back injured and nobody cares and we just have to accept the situation,” Wenger said.
“For me it’s surprising why there should be no compensation in a friendly game where players are less needed and they [the national teams] could leave the players out rather than in an official game.”—Sapa-AFP
Create Account | Lost Your Password?