LIVERPOOL, April 22 – Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted Manchester United were in the driving seat for the title after watching his side drop two crucial points at Anfield on Tuesday.
The Spaniard blamed "massive mistakes" after his side were held to a 4-4 draw by Arsenal, for whom Andriy Arshavin scored all four of his side’s goals – the first player to achieve such a feat at Anfield in a league match since Denis Westcott for Wolves in 1946 – in an astonishing match.
Ironically the point was enough to take Liverpool back to the top of the table, level on points with United but with a better goal difference.
However, United now have two games in hand over their rivals and barring a catastrophic collapse, ought to seal their third successive domestic title.
"I’m really disappointed because we conceded four goals," said Benitez.
"The positive thing is we have scored four goals, but I’m disappointed because we have made massive mistakes.
"We have been fighting so hard and we will continue to do so. It has to be like this.
"They (United) were already in the driving seat and if they win their games in hand then it will be more and more difficult for us (to win the title)."
With five games and 15 points still to play for, Benitez is reluctant to concede defeat to United in the race for the Premier League.
And he insisted that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side still had it all to do. "They have to win and they still have to play Arsenal yet," he added.
Having bowed out of the Champions League after a 4-4 draw at Chelsea last week, Liverpool have now conceded eight times in two games.
It would have been worse for Liverpool had Yossi Benayoun not netted a last-ditch equaliser, the Israel midfielder’s second goal of the game.
"It’s very difficult to explain why we conceded so many goals. But to score at the end shows we have very good characters in the side. We will keep going until the end. We need to keep the confidence."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saluted Arshavin after the Russia striker’s four-goal display.
Arshavin fired the visitors into a first half lead against the run of play before goals by Fernando Torres and Benayoun put Liverpool in control.
In a dramatic match full of twists and turns, Arshavin scored two quick goals to turn the game on its head before Torres made it 3-3. There was still time for Arshavin to make it 4-3 before Benayoun had the final say.
"Arshavin can play everywhere like all the great players," said Wenger.
"He has a lot of tricks and he’s very dangerous."
Wenger refused to write off Liverpool’s title hopes and believes the race is far from over.
"It was a top quality game played at a tremendous pace," he added.
"Both teams created many chances and I give my players credit for the way they performed.
"It’s (title race) still very open.
"It depends on what kind of form United are in and depends on how they bounce back after going out of the FA Cup."