After The Match 


Arsenal-Liverpool 1-0 (0-0)           10.2.10                          PL
Goals: Diaby (72)
Team: Reina, Carragher, Insua, Skrtel, Agger, Mascherano, Lucas, Maxi, Kuyt, Gerrard, Ngog
Subs: Degen (Carragher 55), Babel (Lucas 78)
Not used: Cavalieri, Riera, Aurelio, Spearing, Kelly
Yellow: Rodriguez (41), Degen (62),
Clichy (40), Bendtner (64)
Red: None
Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 60,046
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Blocked shots:
Fouls conceded:

HEADLINES "It was just one mistake
in our defence and they scored from it."
Steven Gerrard
1102: Gerrard 'fancies' Reds to beat City
1102: Gerrard blasts 'crazy' decision
1102: Rafa predicts tight finish
1102: Arsene Wenger's hoodoo
          over Rafa Benitez continues

1102: Wenger: Title race still wide open
1002: Rafa rues 'clear penalty'
1002: Diaby nods Gunners back into race

Gerrard 'fancies' Reds to beat City


Liverpool star Steven Gerrard has set his sights on beating Manchester City in 10 days' time as the race for Champions League places heats up.

Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal - where the Reds have not won for a decade - along with a similar reverse for Tottenham at Wolves and Aston Villa's 1-1 draw with Manchester United handed the initiative to City.

They are level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool but have two matches in hand and the fixture list pitches the two together at Eastlands a week on Sunday.

With third place now seemingly a distant hope after the Gunners extended their advantage to eight points, Gerrard has called for all efforts to be put into beating Roberto Mancini's side.

"We have got to use a lot of positives from the (Arsenal) match," he said.

"There are plenty of teams who go there and get played off the park. I certainly feel disappointed leaving with nothing.

"We played against a fantastic Arsenal team with quality players who can open up any team in the world, and they did not really create many chances.

"It was just one mistake in our defence and they scored from it.

"The way we played over the 90 minutes, we certainly deserved a point.

"The lads are gutted after putting in all that effort and getting nothing, but sometimes that happens and you just have to get on with it.

"There is nothing we can do about this result now. The lads will reflect on it and we have a very big game coming up against Manchester City.

"But if we play like we did at Arsenal, then I fancy us to beat them.

"I feel if we are on our game and playing well, we are a match for anyone."

An eighth defeat of the season - six more than last year when they ran champions Manchester United a close second - is one of the most damaging statistics for Liverpool.

Seven of those came in the first four months of the campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have lost four and none so far at Eastlands.

The Liverpool captain knows their early form has cost them dearly but held up their seven-match unbeaten league run which came to an end at the Emirates Stadium as a yardstick for the remainder of the season.

"We are where we are in the table because we were very inconsistent earlier in the season," said the England international.

"But look at Liverpool's performances over the last six or seven games - if we show that consistency, then we will challenge for the league."

Gerrard's form has, like the team's, been patchy this season with niggling injuries preventing him from putting in the kind of inspirational performances he has gained a reputation for.

He now feels he is close to getting back to his best but said it was little consolation if it was not benefiting the team.

"I am really happy with the way I played myself [at Arsenal] but I get nothing from that because we came away with nothing," added the 28-year-old.

"But my form is improving."

Gerrard blasts 'crazy' decision

Sky Sports

Steven Gerrard believes it was 'crazy' that Liverpool were not awarded a late penalty in their 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Liverpool were trailing to Abou Diaby's header when the visitors vehemently called for the award of a spot-kick after Gerrard's free-kick deep into injury-time struck Cesc Fabregas' arm.

The Arsenal captain was stood on the edge of the area when the incident occurred and referee Howard Webb allowed play to continue before moments later blowing the final whistle.

Gerrard led the protests to Webb at the end of the game and the Liverpool captain was unhappy that the officials did not spot the handball.

"The referee told the Liverpool wall in the first half that if anyone raises their arms above their waist he was going to give a penalty," said the midfielder.

"So for some crazy reason he didn't give it. He told me after the game he hadn't seen it.

"It was unbelievable and I can't believe he didn't see someone raise their hands in the wall.

"We know over the course of a season sometimes you will get decisions and sometimes you won't, but something so clear as that was hard to take, especially with the referee being Howard Webb.

"I would say he is one of the best referees in the league so I am very surprised he didn't see it."

Rafa predicts tight finish

Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez believes the race for fourth place will go right down to the end of the season.

The Reds missed the chance to go clear in the battle to claim fourth spot after being beaten 1-0 at Arsenal on Wednesday night.

Liverpool currently hold the coveted fourth spot, but Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa are all battling to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League.

Benitez was disappointed to see their recent unbeaten run come to an end at the Emirates and has called on his side to bounce back in their next league outing, which is a testing trip to City.

"When you lose after nine games without losing you have to be disappointed," said Benitez. "They (Arsenal) are a good team but now we think about the future.

"The race for the fourth position will be to the end and we have to be ready for the next game.

"It is difficult for anyone to win too many games in a row. The main thing is to be calm and to keep going."

Benitez is also waiting to find out the full extent of the injury picked up by Jamie Carragher against the Gunners.

Carragher was forced off in the second half with a groin problem and Benitez is hopeful the injury is not too serious.

"Carra has a problem with his adductor," added Benitez. "It seems like it is not serious but he could not carry on.

"We will see in one or two days and see how he feels."

Arsene Wenger's hoodoo
over Rafa Benitez continues

Comment by Dominic King - Liverpool Echo

Life's great certainties are death and taxes but perhaps the time has come to add another constant to that list.

After another fruitless, frustrating trip to the Emirates Stadium, Rafa Benitez must surely be wondering whether the hoodoo Arsene Wenger has over him in London will ever end.

Bursting with determination and pushing themselves to the physical limit to maintain a seven-match unbeaten run, a sense of injustice infuses Liverpool’s squad today and it is easy to see why that is so.

They have arguably never had better prospects of beating Arsenal on enemy territory since Titi Camara’s winner in February 2000 than this but a series of fine details – and a referee’s error – prevented them turning promise into points.

Had David Ngog shown great composure and had Jamie Carragher not tweaked his groin at a vital moment, Liverpool would have been able to protect a one-goal lead; as it was, Ngog missed, Carragher went off and Arsenal took full advantage.

Yet worse of all was the fact Howard Webb refused to point to the spot in the dying seconds when a Steven Gerrard free-kick was handled by Cesc Fabregas; that the Arsenal skipper later admitted he had committed a crime rubbed salt in open wounds.

What a pity. Giving the impression once again that the shoots of recovery are continuing to grow with a dogged display, the Reds deserved so much more; as it is, they must start to build all over again.

If the opening to the Merseyside derby had those spectators who were close to the action wincing, due to the ferocity of certain challenges, the start to this contest was a much more reserved affair, befitting the subdued atmosphere in the stadium.

Highbury, of course, was known as the ‘The Library’ and it appears that nearly four years after moving into this sparkling arena, the locals are still no nearer to creating an intimidating welcome for visitors.

Not that Liverpool complained. Far from it. Anxious to build on their impressive recent run of form, but mindful of the fact they had contested a war of attrition four days earlier, the gentle opening suited them.

Arsenal might have had a couple of half chances in the first 30 minutes – notably when unmarked William Gallas headed a Fabregas corner high and Nicklas Bendtner blazed over – but it was not one way traffic by any means.

Frustratingly, however, Liverpool’s wastefulness in possession meant they were unable to exert real pressure on Arsenal’s defence; time and again moments of promise would come to nothing because of skew-whiff passing.

Such a shame. If Dirk Kuyt had got his angles right or had Emiliano Insua not been so rash in wanting to release the ball, then Steven Gerrard would have been sent rampaging through.

The scowl that Gerrard flashed at both men immediately after they had found a red and white shirt rather than a black and gold one told its own story but, in a curious way, it was encouraging to see the captain so animated.

By his own admission, Gerrard has, for one reason or another, been short of top form this season but in the last 10 days there have been glimpses that he is ready to go through the gears again.

Every time Liverpool moved to within range of Arsenal’s 18-yard box, Gerrard came into view, stalking with menace and pressurising Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen, Emmanuel Eboue and Gael Clichy whenever possible.

Alas, the ball he so desperately craved never arrived and the biggest disappointment of a poor first period was the man who might have been able to help, Alberto Aquilani, was back on Merseyside recovering from a stomach upset.

It was on this ground in a Carling Cup tie, remember, that Aquilani was first introduced to Liverpool supporters and briefly showed himself to have an impressive range of passing.

Admittedly he has not had much opportunity to build on that since but the feeling persisted this would have been an ideal game to let him take his chance – Arsenal, after all, are not the type of team known for kicking opponents.

Gerrard, though, is just as good a creator as he is finisher and, given the way he was moving with intent, it was perhaps inevitable it would be he who created Liverpool’s best opening of the game early in the second period.

His beautifully weighted ball on 53 minutes should have yielded the first goal but, to every Liverpudlian’s exasperation, David Ngog never once gave the impression he was confident when running towards Manuel Almunia.

With courage in his convictions, the young Frenchman would surely have put Liverpool in front; had the opening fell to a fit Fernando Torres, for instance, there would have been only one outcome.

But, at this moment in time, Ngog just lacks that crucial bit of self-belief in games of such importance; ineffective in the Merseyside derby, it was heavy weather for him again last night.

How they were made to pay. Wenger’s men had already fashioned a number of threatening breaks, quick runners on the flanks trying to speed into dangerous areas, but Liverpool kept defending stoically – that was until they cracked on 72 minutes.

In the blink of an eye, Fabregas and Bendtner combined to send substitute Tomas Rosicky scampering down the left, who in turn fired a cross into the six yard area that Abou Diaby headed powerfully into Pepe Reina’s net.

Watch the replays of the goal again and you will see Diaby was unmarked as he settled the outcome; had Carragher been on the pitch, the Frenchman almost certainly would have found himself with some company.

Still, there is no point complaining. These things happen in football and when Ryan Babel saw a powerful drive tipped onto the bar by Almunia, it was apparent Liverpool’s luck was out. Webb’s error in injury time merely compounded matters.

Yet there is no point stewing on this result; it is not a fatal blow to ambitions and, for once, it is possible to take positive from a negative. What better place to do that than at Manchester City on Sunday week?

Wenger: Title race still wide open


Arsene Wenger reckons the Premier League title race remains "wide open" after Arsenal beat Liverpool to move within six points of Chelsea.

The Gunners were 1-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium, with a second-half headed goal from Abou Diaby sealing the victory.

But Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was left fuming, claiming his side should have had an injury-time penalty when Cesc Fabregas appeared to handle the ball from a Steven Gerrard free-kick.

Referee Howard Webb waved away Liverpool's appeals and Benitez said: "We are really disappointed with the decision of the hand ball. It was very, very clear. The players were on the line. It was a hand ball. It has to be a penalty if you see the replay.

"During the game you do not realise how clear the hand ball was but watching the replay the referee was there."

Television replays appeared to suggest the hand was outside the box, however, and Wenger denied Liverpool should have had a spot kick.

He said: "It was a controversial situation. The free kick against us was harsh. Steven Gerrard didn't deserve the free kick he got and afterwards Cesc Fabregas maybe touched the ball with his hand but it shouldn't have been a free kick."

Wenger was just delighted to get the win after suffering successive defeats against Manchester United and Chelsea.

With Chelsea losing against Everton and United drawing with Aston Villa it means the Gunners are now six points behind Chelsea and five behind United.

And Wenger believes that has thrown the title race open once more.

He said: "I said after the Chelsea game we will fight until the last second of the season. We did that tonight and that's what we will continue to do. Everybody can drop points everywhere. It is open for everybody.

"I don't see any mathematical reason why we shouldn't believe. It can change quickly. We had a big shock in our last two games and the most important thing was to recover and come back with a win.

"We were resilient. We showed good discipline and in the end we got the goal which made it a massive result for us.

"Nobody realises what it is to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot. Physically and mentally it is very demanding especially with the two massive disappointments. It shows the team is solid and mentally strong."

One sour note for Wenger was that Russian midfielder Andrey Arshavin limped off with a hamstring injury and Samir Nasri was substituted with a head injury which left him nauseous.

Wenger also quashed talk that Fabregas was on his way to Barcelona, which both the player and the Spanish club have denied.

"Nothing plus nothing is nothing," said Wenger.

Rafa rues 'clear penalty'

By James Dall - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez felt his side were denied a 'very clear' penalty in their 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Wednesday.

The Reds found themselves trailing after Abou Diaby headed the Gunners in front late in the second period.

But in the final seconds of the match Steven Gerrard saw a free-kick connect with Cesc Fabregas' hand, as the Spaniard stood in the Arsenal wall.

Liverpool strongly appealed for at least a free-kick, with Fabregas positioned around on or near the18-yard line, but referee Howard Webb waved away appeals.

Asked whether he felt his side should have been awarded a penalty, Benitez told Sky Sports: "I think so. I think that it was very clear.

"The referee said to our players to be careful and not put your hands too high. It was unbelievable to see the replay and how he could not see it.

"I think we have to analyse the game on not just one decision. Clearly it was a mistake, but the game was difficult against a good team.

"I think in the second half we were pushing and could have got at least a point."

Diaby nods Gunners back into race


Arsenal breathed new life into their faint Premier League title hopes with a narrow 1-0 win over Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Abou Diaby finally got the breakthrough on 72 minutes when he headed in Tomas Rosicky's cross as the Gunners bounced back from successive defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea.

Liverpool, who are just ahead of Manchester City in fourth place, almost grabbed a late equaliser when substitute Ryan Babel saw his shot tipped onto the bar.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger made changes from the side beaten by Chelsea at the weekend, which left them some nine points off the leaders, However, the Blues' subsequent defeat by Everton tonight means that deficit was quickly reduced.

Theo Walcott dropped to the bench, as Nicklas Bendtner, who had been out following groin surgery, made a welcome first start since October.

While Arsenal had been faltering, Liverpool slowly moved themselves back up into the top four.

The Gunners' frailty at the back was exposed again on five minutes when a free-kick bobbled alarmingly around the six-yard box before Manuel Almunia gathered.

At the other end, William Gallas - yet to confirm whether he will be staying with Arsenal - headed over.

Liverpool remained patient, although David Ngog snatched at his shot after working some space at the edge of the Arsenal area.

Much like at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, the Gunners had plenty of possession, but without looking dangerous in the final third.

Samir Nasri's low ball in from the right was cut out by Martin Skrtel, as Bendtner arrived behind him through the six-yard box.

The Dane was then played in by Andrey Arshavin, but shot over.

Arsenal were finally having a decent spell, with Nasri's shot charged down by Emiliano Insua.

The Argentina defender then saw his goal-bound effort deflect off Thomas Vermaelen.

On 34 minutes, Nasri, who earlier appeared to take a blow to the side of his face, was replaced by Tomas Rosicky.

Neither side were able to make the most of some promising build-up play as the first half drew to a close.

Arsenal, though, had more urgency following the restart, as Arshavin drilled the ball into the side-netting.

At the other end, Lucas Leiva drilled his angled shot over after being played into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area by Dirk Kuyt.

Steven Gerrard's determination released Ngog down the middle, but Gallas recovered to make a brilliant saving tackle just inside the 18-yard box.

Rosicky's touch was then too heavy after the Czech Republic winger was put clear down the left channel by Arshavin.

Arsenal were in the ascendancy now.

Bendtner's deft chip almost crept over the line after Jose Reina could only make a partial save, but Daniel Agger cleared.

However, on 63 minutes, referee Howard Webb showed Bendtner a yellow card for diving under a challenge by Agger, although replays suggested there may have been minimum contact.

Arshavin missed his kick when arriving at pace in the penalty area to meet Gael Clichy's cross, with Rosicky blasting the loose ball over.

Arsenal made the breakthrough after 72 minutes, when Diaby arrived on cue at the far post to head in Rosicky's right-wing cross.

Liverpool felt they had a strong penalty claim when Gerrard went down under a mass of red shirts, appearing to be blocked by Diaby, but the referee waved play on.

The visitors almost snatched an equaliser with four minutes left, but Almunia tipped a dipping drive from substitute Babel onto the crossbar.

In stoppage time, there was more controversy when a dubious free-kick from Gerrard appeared to strike Cesc Fabregas on the hand, but referee Webb was not interested.

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Thor Zakariassen ©