It was a beautiful goal to settle and ugly game and revive Arsenal dreams of the title. This is the last line of the Daily Mail’s report on last night’s crucial 1-0 win over Liverpool at the Emirates and it couldn’t be more apposite.
Abou Diaby’s header from Tom Rosicky’s inviting cross gave us a derserved victory in a scrappy affair that leaves us six points behind Chelsea after they lost 2-1 to Everton. With United only drawing with Villa and Wolves seeing off Harold Redknapp’s lot, it is a delight to thumb through this morning’s papers.
The Mail goes on to tell us that Cesc Fabregas found himself at the centre of controversy in stoppage time when he jumped up on the edge of the penalty area to block a free-kick from Steven Gerrard with his arm. Nothing was given by referee Howard Webb.
Fabregas had been booked seconds earlier for disputing Webb’s decision to blow for a foul after what was an innocuous challenge on Dirk Kuyt. Whether it was in the penalty area or not, he could easily have been sent off for a second yellow card but neither team was happy with the referee’s performance.
‘There were so many incidents he got wrong,’ said Fabregas. ‘There were so many against us, so many against them. Maybe it touched my arm, yes, but I would have got my head to it anyway.’
AW said: ‘It was a massive result, 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 but let’s be consistent and try to win our next game. We will fight until the last second of the season. We believe in our chances. Chelsea lost again and Man United dropped points.
‘It is open to everybody. I don’t see a mathematical reason why we shouldn’t win it. It can change quickly. But it’s more important to focus on the next games than speak about the title.’
He adds in the Sun: “Nobody realises how hard it is to play United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot with no time to recover. So to come back from Sunday’s disappointment to get back to six points is great for us.” And the paper adds that United, Chelsea and Liverpool still have to face each other – while our next seven fixtures all look winnable. Wenger added: “Let’s be consistent and try to win our next game. We believe in our chances. It is open for everybody.”
The Times says the only predictable thing about this match was the self-referential chants heard at the end. Arsenal scrapped their way to a hard-fought, if not downright ugly, win, which while not quite putting them back in title contention, gives them complete control in the race for third place. Given the torrid time they have endured over the past fortnight, a return of “1-0 to the Arsenal” will have done nicely.
Meanwhile, I saw a post-match interview with Cesc Fabregas once I got back from the game and he clearly stated that he hadn’t spoken to Barcelona about a move yet the stories persists, with the Mirror bringing us an altogether different angle this morning.
They say Fabregas will be willing to talk with Barcelona about a move to Spain this summer. Fabregas’s dad opened the door for negotiations after the European champions made the Arsenal captain their top transfer target.
He warned Barca to make any approach official but confirmed Fabregas would be willing to listen to offers. He said: “If something has to happen – we will see at the end of the season. We would talk. But to be talking about these at the middle of the season – I understand Arsenal being angry.
“If a club is interested in a player, then it should go to the other club and try to negotiate. This is the way to function always. If this thing has to happen, it has to be this way: Barca going to talk to Arsenal. That goes the same with Cesc and for the rest of the players.”