Houllier: Better side won
Gerard Houllier admitted that Arsenal were the better
side in their 4-2 defeat at Highbury - saying they were
stunning in the second half.
Liverpool showed plenty of fight in the first half and
twice took the lead to go into the break 2-1 ahead.
Arsenal bounced back in the second period as Thierry
Henry inspired his side by completing a hat-trick -
including a superb solo effort - to seal a 4-2 win.
Houllier admits Arsenal were the better side on the day.
"I thought they were better than us, especially in the
second half, I think we were better in the first half
but they were stunning in the second half," said
"The game was decided by some individual brilliance from
Thierry - which affected the morale of the team.
"Before that we could have scored a third goal with
Harry Kewell's shot.
"We had more chances than they had in the first half -
although their goal was fortunate as I think it was foul
on Didi Hamann.
"As soon as they scored the second equaliser it gave
them a lot of confidence.
"They're a great team that's why they are unbeaten.
"I said they would be like a wounded animal and the way
they started the second half showed that.
"I expected they would come out and show something.
"It's a big test for us now, we have got six games left
to play and we have to do well."
Wenger surprised by Gunners
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says that his side showed
great mental strength to emerge from a dreadful week
with a win over Liverpool.
The Gunners have been knocked out of the UEFA Champions
League and FA Cup in their last two games, and had to
come from behind twice against The Reds.
Despite Liverpool taking the lead on two occasions,
Arsenal came firing back, inspired by a Thierry Henry
hat-trick, to move seven points clear at the top of the
"It was a big test of mental strength, of character and
togetherness," said Wenger.
"This team is special and they've showed that again
"When their backs were against the wall, they came out
and played some fantastic football."
Wenger admitted that the spirit of his side surprised
him somewhat, and paid tribute to a special effort by
Henry - who was a doubt for the game with a back injury.
"Yes, the mental resources of the team surprised me. I
feared the two big games could have taken its toll in
the second half.
"Today Thierry has been exceptional, but the team has
also been exceptional.
"It was a gamble because he could have started and come
off after ten minutes if his back had locked again.
"He is amazing, but the team is also really amazing.
"The mental strength they showed. There is nothing worse
than losing in the Champions League in the final minutes
but the way they came back today was extraordinary.
"I can only give one guarantee with this team and that
is they will give all that they can."
hat-trick downs Liverpool
BBC Sport Online
Thierry Henry's hat-trick put Arsenal seven points
clear at top of the table.
Liverpool threatened to increase Arsenal's misery after
the FA Cup and Champions League exits when Sami Hyypia
headed them ahead after five minutes.
Henry raced clear to equalise after 31 minutes, but
Michael Owen restored Liverpool's lead before half-time.
Arsenal scored twice in a minute early in the second
half through Robert Pires and an Henry wonder goal,
before he completed his treble after 78 minutes.
Henry passed a late fitness test on his back injury as
Arsenal attempted to get their season on course after a
week of bitter disappointment.
Arsenal delayed their appearance on to the pitch until
virtually the last-minute, but it was Liverpool who made
the faster start and took the lead after five minutes.
Liverpool forced three quick corners, and when Steven
Gerrard re-directed Harry Kewell's delivery, Hyypia
scored with a diving header.
Arsenal were stunned and it needed a smart intervention
from Sol Campbell to stop Owen reaching John Arne
Riise's through ball.
The Gunners finally spluttered into life when Liverpool
goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was forced to produce a fine
reaction save from Freddie Ljungberg's angled drive.
Jens Lehmann, the much-criticised Arsenal goalkeeper,
was uncertain again when he allowed Owen to reach a
though ball ahead of him, and he was fortunate to see
the striker's shot drift over the top.
Arsenal were in desperate need of a moment of creation,
and they got it after 31 minutes.
Gilberto robbed Dietmar Hamann, and when Pires found
Henry he provided a composed finish to beat Dudek.
But as Arsenal attempted to settle their nerves,
Liverpool struck again three minutes before the
Gerrard's brilliant through ball allowed Owen to
cleverly escape the attentions of Campbell, and this
time he made no mistake.
It was a pivotal moment in Arsenal's season - and they
responded magnificently with two goals in a minute to
take the lead.
Henry and Ljungberg combined after 49 minutes to set up
Pires for a crisp finish past Dudek.
And then, a minute later, came the latest addition to
Henry's catalogue of magical moments that have graced
Henry got possession just inside the Liverpool half
before setting off on a dazzling run that left Hamann
and Jamie Carragher trailing in his wake before
providing the finish the move deserved.
Arsenal were going for the kill, while Liverpool manager
Gerard Houllier introduced Milan Baros for the
disappointing Emile Heskey in a bid to turn the tide.
Wenger also made a change, sending on Edu for the tiring
Henry completed his hat-trick to seal a crucial victory,
taking advantage of slack marking and Dennis Bergkamp's
through ball to bundle home with 12 minutes left.
It was the result Arsenal needed so badly, and left
Liverpool still fighting a battle for fourth place.