Report: Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool
Arsenal have given themselves a chance again in the title race.
After seemingly shooting themselves in the foot by succumbing to main rivals Man. United and Chelsea on the trot, Wenger’s men finally managed a ‘grand slam’ victory over Liverpool through a vital header by Diaby, 18 minutes from time.
It was against the reds whom Arsenal began their title revival after November’s slump, and who knows, after the past agonizing fortnight, the rally could be on again with today’s triumph.
And as Chelsea were beaten by Everton while United dropped points at Villa, the formula to winning this campaign’s Premier League title may not be ‘beating the best’ but ‘beating the rest’ after all.
The Gunners escaped five minutes on when a free-kick bobbled alarmingly around the six-yard box before Manuel Almunia gathered. At the other end, William Gallas headed over.
Liverpool remained patient, although David Ngog snatched at his shot after working some space at the edge of the Arsenal area. 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 having a decent spell, with Nasri’s shot charged down by Emiliano Insua.
The Argentina defender then saw his goalbound 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 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.
Bendtner’s deft chip almost crept over the line after Jose Reina could only make a partial save, but Daniel Agger cleared.
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 equalizer with four minutes left, but Almunia tipped a dipping drive from substitute Babel onto the crossbar. And in stoppage time, a dubious free-kick from Gerrard appeared to strike Cesc Fabregas on the hand, but referee Webb was not interested.
Arsenal had been reprieved.