LONDON, April 18 – Arsene Wenger has asked his Arsenal players to fight until the end in the Premier League title race after suffering a huge blow to their hopes during a controversial 1-1 draw against Liverpool.
Wenger’s team had to settle for a point as Dirk Kuyt’s penalty, with the last action of the game at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, cancelled out Robin van Persie’s stoppage-time spot-kick.
It leaves Arsenal six points behind Manchester United with just six games to play this season and time running out to catch Sir Alex Ferguson’s league leaders.
"We have to give everything until the last game of the season and see if it is our year or not," Wenger said.
"It’s about us winning our games. We are on a 15-game unbeaten run in the league but we have not taken enough points recently. The players are very disappointed. Who wouldn’t be?
"We have to continue to play and fight until the last moment. We have players who are ambitious and want to do as well as they can.
"We’ve had disappointments before and bounced back. That is what we have to do."
Wenger was furious with referee Andre Marriner for awarding a penalty 11 minutes into stoppage-time for Emmanuel Eboue’s clumsy barge on Lucas Leiva, who appeared to wait for contact before falling to the turf.
"We conceded a penalty after 11 minutes when the referee said there was eight minutes of injury time," Wenger said.
"I don’t see where those three minutes came from and it was no penalty. Lucas stopped in front of Eboue."
It led to a furious protest from Wenger, although Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish appeared to dismiss his complaints during a touchline confrontation.
"I said to Dalglish it was not a penalty. That was all. You can check it on the TV," Wenger said.
"We have been badly done by in the two games here. Against Sunderland we scored a regular goal and were not given a penalty that was 100 percent.
"Against Liverpool we got caught like that. It’s a period where we have not the biggest luck, that’s for sure."
Van Persie’s goal came after Martin Skrtel tripped Cesc Fabregas, although Dalglish felt defeat would have been harsh on his players.
The result worked in the favour of Liverpool’s bitter rivals at Old Trafford but Dalglish added: "We never handed anything to anyone. In fact, we beat them (United) 3-1 at Anfield so I don’t know how we handed them anything if we beat them.
"We’ll look after ourselves and if anyone gets any advantage from our results then so be it. We can only look after ourselves and that’s what we always do."
United could overtake Liverpool’s shared record of 18 league titles this season, but Dalglish added: "In my eyes we’re still the best club in English football, if not world football. So I’m not very sad at that.
"The surprise is that we have not won the title for a long time, that is the surprise but it’s not sadness. It’s just a fact of life.
"They never acquired enough points in any season since then to win it. They came close a couple of years ago when Rafa (Benitez) went close, had a fantastic record against the so-called top four but just couldn’t get it over the line."