Kenny Dalglish insists Liverpool remain the “best club in English football, if not world football” despite pushing great rivals Manchester United a step closer to a record 19 domestic championship titles after snatching a dramatic draw with the last kick of yesterday’s Barclays Premier League game at Arsenal.
Dirk Kuyt’s penalty with the last kick of the game secured a point for the Reds, who had earlier seen captain Jamie Carragher knocked out after a clash of heads with John Flanagan and carried off on a stretcher.
Just moments earlier, though, it had seemed as if Arsenal would keep up the pressure on United when Robin van Persie scored from the spot deep into eight minutes of stoppage time.
With United now six points ahead of the Gunners, it seems the championship is set to return to Old Trafford, which would see the Red Devils eclipse the achievements of their rivals from Merseyside.
However, for Dalglish, that would not take anything away from Liverpool.
“Sadness? In my eyes we are still the best club in English football, if not world football, so I am not very sad at that,” said the Scot, in his second stint as manager at Anfield, where he won a plethora of honours as a player.
“The surprise is that they [Liverpool] have not won the title for a long time, that is the surprise, but it’s not sadness, it’s just a fact of life.
“They never acquired enough points in any season since 1991 to win it.
“They came close a couple of years ago when Rafa (Benitez) went close, had a fantastic record against the so-called top four, but just couldn’t get it over the line.”
Dalglish added: “It will be fantastic to get back there, but you need to hit the standards other teams have set.
“That is four games – United, [Manchester] City, Arsenal and Chelsea. We only dropped two points and that was here.”
Dalglish believes his injury-hit squad can take great heart from recent displays.
“I don’t think there’s any team anywhere that’s shown the same attitude and commitment that our team showed,” said Dalglish, who took £35m striker Andy Carroll off as a precaution after he jarred his knee.
“Losing Fabio Aurelio early on, putting a 17-year-old on at left-back, losing our captain, having right-back at only 18 with his second game, we have lost our centre forward, we’ve lost a goal and eight minutes into injury time they still didn’t want to accept that were going to get nothing from the game.
“You can’t speak any higher about them than that.”
Dalglish was quick to play down a touchline spat with Wenger at the final whistle.
“That would be sad too if that was reported,” he said.
“I just told him there I still owe him dinner. There’s no problem.”
Carragher, meanwhile, maintained there was no cause for alarm over his head injury despite being carried off on a stretcher, his neck in a brace and given oxygen.
However, after treatment at the Emirates Stadium, the veteran Reds centre-half had recovered enough to join in the celebrations at the final whistle.
“It was a little clash of heads and these things happen in football. As soon as I came round I was absolutely fine,” the 33-year-old said.
“I watched their penalty in the dressing room and then saw that we got our own.
“I was just praying that we scored because to get four points out of six from the last two games is fantastic.
“I went out onto the pitch at the end because I wanted to celebrate with the lads.”
Carragher added: “Some of the players we had out there, because of the injuries we had, still qualify for the youth team so it was a really good team performance.”