LIVERPOOL, December 14 – Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas said a furious half-time outburst from Gunners manager Arsene Wenger inspired them to come from behind and beat Liverpool 2-1 in the Premier League.Sunday’s match here at Anfield went the way of the home side in the first half and Liverpool were rewarded when Dirk Kuyt’s goal four minutes before half-time gave them the lead.
But the north Londoners hit back after the break thanks to a Glen Johnson own goal before Andrey Arshavin’s sublime strike just short of the hour sealed a victory that saw Arsenal regain third spot and move to within three points of second-placed champions Manchester United with a game in hand.
On a day when Liverpool were celebrating the 50th anniversary of legendary manager Bill Shankly’s arrival at Anfield, Fabregas said he’d never seen Wenger as angry as the Frenchman was at the interval.
"The boss screamed. I’ve never seen him like that before," Fabregas told Sky Sports. "He was really disappointed in the first half and said we didn’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt if we played like that.
"And I think he was right," the Spain international added. "In the second half we turned it round."
Victory left Arsenal six points behind leaders Chelsea, who like United dropped points on Saturday.
But a cautious Fabregas added "There is still a long way to go.
"The Premier League is more open than ever, you can beat any team and I like it that way."
Wenger revealed he had been angry at half-time but refused to say precisely what he had told his players.
"I don’t like to talk about that. I’ll keep that in the dressing room," Wenger said.
"They knew it was absolutely needed to win this game and when you lose the fifty-fifties in big games you don’t win.
"It was just to make them conscious (that) the commitment of Liverpool was bigger. I think the first half, we were quite happy with 1-0 – it could have been two and the game could have been over.
"I don’t put it down to a lack of desire – there was a fear to lose a big game. You could see that in the first half. It showed the team can respond and they are proud."
Defeat left Liverpool, who started the season with hopes of winning a first English title since 1990, five points adrift of the top-four finish they will need to bring Champions League football back to Anfield next term having already crashed out of this season’s competition.
"The own goal changed everything, the confidence changed and we started to make mistakes," said under-fire Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
"The first half was really good and we were very pleased. The second changed and they were playing with more confidence and we played with less.
"Top four is the same target, it’s a long way but we need to keep going."