LONDON, February 11 – Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's title challenge is back on track after his side reduced the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to six points with a 1-0 win over Liverpool.
The Gunners had been widely written off after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, which followed a heavy home loss to Manchester United.
But Wenger was delighted with his side’s response as they ended a run of three games without a win thanks to Abou Diaby’s 72nd minute header at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Diaby’s winner ensured the Gunners took advantage of Chelsea’s loss at Everton, while second-placed United dropped two points at Aston Villa.
Arsenal’s run-in is, on paper, less daunting than their rivals and they face only two of the current top seven, Manchester City and Tottenham, in their 12 remaining games – giving Wenger hope of a renewed title bid.
"Nobody realises what it is to play United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot is hard physically and mentally, especially after two massive disappointments. This win shows the team are solid," Wenger said.
"We have shown good togetherness and good discipline. It was a massive result for us.
"Let’s be consistent and try to win our next game. I believe we will fight until the last second of the season. We did that against Liverpool. That’s what we continue to do.
"We believe in our chances. You could see that Chelsea again lost, United dropped points. So it is open for everybody.
"I don’t see any mathematical reason why we shouldn’t believe (we can win it). At the moment, it’s more important for us to focus on our next game rather than speak about titles.
"We had a big shock in our last two games, but it was important to come back and win."
Wenger’s delight was slightly tempered by injuries to Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri, although neither player is expected to face a lengthy lay-off.
"Arshavin has a hamstring problem and Nasri has a knock on his head," Wenger said. "I didn’t want to take a chance. He wanted to stay on, but he felt like vomiting so I didn’t want to take a chance. We will scan Arshavin on Thursday."
Liverpool remain fourth after a loss that ended their run of seven league games without defeat, but the Reds are now level on points with fifth-placed Manchester City, who have played two games less.
Rafael Benitez was frustrated his side had been denied a last minute penalty when Cesc Fabrgeas appeared to handle Steven Gerrard’s free kick but insisted the battle to finish in the top four would go to the wire.
Aston Villa’s draw with United and Tottenham’s defeat at Wolves meant two of their rivals for fourth spot were unable to take full advantage of the Merseysiders’ slip.
Benitez said: "When you lose after so many games unbeaten, you have to be disappointed. So now it’s about thinking for the future, about the next games. The race for third position will go to the end.
"Always, when you lose, you’re disappointed. It was difficult playing against Arsenal who have so much possession.
"We defended well and had some chances, and could have scored at the end. Also, I’m really disappointed with the handball decision."
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was forced off early in the second half and now faces a race to be fit for Liverpool’s Europa League tie with Unirea Urziceni on February 18.
"’Carra’ has a problem with his adductor," Benitez said. "It’s not serious, but we will see."