Arsene Wenger has challenged his battle-weary Arsenal squad to “give everything until the last game of the season” as they look to shake off another morale-sapping disappointment following a dramatic finale to yesterday’s Barclays Premier League clash against Liverpool which ended 1-1 at Emirates Stadium.
After the Gunners had once again failed to make the most of possession and seen Laurent Koscielny’s first-half header come back off the crossbar, it seemed a spot-kick from Robin van Persie deep into eight minutes of stoppage time would seal a much-needed victory.
However, Liverpool – who had earlier had skipper Jamie Carragher knocked out after a clash of heads with John Flanagan and carried off on a stretcher - refused to give up, snatching a point with the final kick of the match when Dirk Kuyt slotted home a last-gasp penalty after Emmanuel Eboue had pushed Lucas.
Arsenal are now six points behind Manchester United, having played the same amount of games.
By the time the Gunners head to Tottenham for the north London derby on Wednesday night, that deficit could be extended should United, who lost in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to rivals Manchester City on Saturday, get a result at Newcastle tomorrow.
Despite the dejection of a costly third successive home draw, Wenger is not ready to throw in the towel.
“The players are very disappointed. Who wouldn’t be?” the Arsenal boss said.
“The hope is always there but, to keep the hope alive, it is up to us to win our games and to win our next game.
“We are on a 15-game unbeaten run, but recently we have not taken enough points.
“Now we must give everything until the last game of the season and see if it is our year or not.”
Wenger was less than impressed by the timekeeping of Andre Marriner, confronting the officials as they left the pitch, which could yet lead to disciplinary action if the incident is mentioned in the referee’s report to the Football Association.
The Arsenal manager lamented: “We conceded a penalty after 11 minutes when the referee said there was eight minutes of injury time. I don’t see where those three minutes came from and it was no penalty.
“We have been badly done in two [recent] games here – against Sunderland we scored a regular goal and were not given a penalty that was 100%, then against Liverpool we got caught back.
“It is a period where we have not the biggest luck, that’s for sure.”
Wenger continued: “We dropped two points. It was a difficult game against a Liverpool team who basically only defended.
“Maybe we are a bit jaded physically. You could see that some players have played 45 minutes and maybe we lack a change of pace, but we tried very hard.
“Every time we had the ball we played eight against 10 men in their half.
“We tried everything to create chances. We had a few and that is what these kind of games are about.”