Diaby fires Gunners back into contention

ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger described last night’s 1-0 home win over Liverpool as a “massive” result as they reduced the gap to leaders Chelsea to six points.

Abou Diaby scored the only goal of the game after 72 minutes and results elsewhere provided the Gunners with hope their title challenge may not yet be over.

“It is a fantastic night for the club,” Wenger said.

“It is a massive result for us after being massively disappointed in the last two games. The players showed great mental strength against a very disciplined team.

“Nobody can imagine how hard it is to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot without having time to recover. To now be only six points behind is great.”

Wenger had maintained his side were still capable of lifting the title following their previous two defeats and his conviction was hardened by tonight’s results.

“Let’s win our games. As I’ve said, we will fight until the last moment in the season and the players showed that tonight,” he said.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez felt his side should have been awarded a penalty in injury time when Gunners skipper Cesc Fabregas appeared to handle the ball while blocking Steven Gerrard’s free-kick.

“It was very clear. It was unbelievable to see the replay and wonder why the referee did not give it,” the Spaniard said.

“I think it is very clear. But I think we also have to analyse the game not just one mistake. In the second half we were pushing and I think we could have got at least a point.”

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.

Arsenal 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.

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.

Arsenal finally 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.

Subs for Arsenal: Rosicky (7) for Nasri, 34; Walcott (6) for Arshavin, 67; Sagna (6) for Bendtner, 82.

Subs for Liverpool: Degen (5) for Carragher, 55; Babel (6) for Lucas, 78.

Referee: Howard Webb


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