Gunners ‘wanted win’, SAF fearful

Aaron Ramsey’s second-half goal – his first since January 2010 –

saw United’s lead remain at just three points from Chelsea, whom

they face next week at Old Trafford. Both sides claimed a penalty

at the Emirates Stadium, but the officials were unmoved when United

captain Nemanja Vidic handled the ball in the area and Michael Owen

went down following a challenge from Gael Clichy. Van Persie said

on Sky Sports News of the Vidic incident: “A clear penalty and in

my opinion a straight red.” Asked what the referee had said to him,

he replied: “At first nothing because he wasn’t sure, but I asked

him again just after half-time and he said it wasn’t a penalty but

I’m sure if he sees it again then he will agree with me. “If that

[United’s penalty appeal wrongly turned down] is the case then it’s

1-1 on that one but in the end I think we played better. We wanted

it more. They played just on the counter-attack so in the end I

think a fair result.” He added: “It was all about pride. The fans

were great. “It was up to us to show some dignity and some honour.

We did that so we’re very pleased with that.” Match-winner Ramsey –

only in the team because of a thigh injury to captain Cesc Fabregas

– urged Arsenal to press on and finish the season on a high. “Our

target was just to keep going now until the end of the season, to

win all our games and see where we end up from there,” he said.

“We’ve done the first bit. We’ve still got a few more games left so

hopefully we can win them as well.” Arsene Wenger praised his team,

which was Arsenal’s youngest line-up of the season and also of all

clubs in the Premier League, but was left to reflect on what might

have been. “We had a good performance, with everything in it –

discipline, fighting spirit and our usual passing game,” he said.

“Until we scored the goal, I feel we controlled the game

completely, then because we had not won a lot recently we tried to

protect our advantage and were a bit under pressure. “If you look

at the age of the team, I think it is a big encouragement for the

club because we had a very young midfield and were still very

positive in our play.” Wenger added: “We have gone through a

difficult period. “The team maybe lacks a bit of maturity under

pressure, the team also had to deal with some big disappointments,

and I felt that had a subconscious effect on our team. “For me, it

was immense pressure to be out of the title race, believe me,

because I felt so strongly we would win this championship. “I have

not given up any hope, because we want to fight until the last

second of the season. “We were really unlucky this season until

now, let’s hope we have a bit more luck in the final three weeks –

you never know.” Good fortune probably evened itself up and Wenger

said: “It was handball, yes. I really think the referee did not see

it, but what can you do about it? I don’t know.” The Arsenal boss

added: “You can give a penalty [to United] as well. “I saw it on

television, but I feel it is less obvious than the Vidic one by

far.” Wenger believes Arsenal’s title challenge evaporated in the

space of a week after they failed to beat Liverpool when leading

with a stoppage-time penalty, then could not hold onto a 3-1 lead

at Tottenham before a 16-match unbeaten run came to an end with a

last-minute defeat at Bolton. “We could have made nine points in

these games, and plus the win today, we would have been ahead of

Manchester United,” he said. Wenger, though, continues to maintain

his squad does not need major additions in the summer. “We want to

add what is needed, but I am very cautious with what I say because

it can be turned both ways,” he added. “It is very important for

the club that we keep faith in what we do – you can see that the

players grow when they get a chance, like Wojciech Szczesny

compared to two months ago, he has grown. “It is a law in our game,

you can only grow at some stage if you play. “People want both.

“They want to win every game and they want to produce as well

fantastic quality young players. “But if [Jack] Wilshere has grown

this season, it is because he has played. “However, on the other

hand, if you do not win, the same people say ‘why do you play young

players?”‘ Sir Alex Ferguson fears United’s Premier League title

bid could be wrecked by a refereeing decision at Old Trafford next

Sunday. United now face a crucial encounter with Chelsea just three

points ahead of the Londoners following the defeat at Arsenal. Less

than 24 hours after Chelsea profited from two errors by match

officials to record a 2-1 win over Tottenham, Ferguson felt his own

side were denied the chance of a point at the Emirates when Foy

failed to spot Clichy’s foul on Owen. Coming a couple of months

after Ferguson was furious at pivotal decisions that went against

United in a defeat at Chelsea, and still believing the Red Devils

were on the wrong end of key calls in both matches between the two

sides last term, the Scot is worried about history repeating

itself. “It’s too big a game not to get the decisions right,

Ferguson told Sky Sports News. “Clichy knew. He put his hands up in

horror. “Obviously, it gives Chelsea a major chance now. That’s

what happens when you get these decisions. “They got one at Old

Trafford last season so that’s the worry now.” Ferguson does appear

to be using a selective judgement on refereeing decisions involving

United. Against Chelsea last season for instance, Federico Macheda

scored thanks to a handball not long after Didier Drogba netted

from an offside position. Whilst United were on the wrong end of

two calls at Stamford Bridge this season, in the Champions League

encounter at the same ground, Ramires was denied a cast-iron

spot-kick in the last minute after being felled by Patrice Evra.

Even on Sunday, Vidic’s first-half handball should have been

spotted by Foy. “It was difficult for anyone to see that,” argued

Ferguson. “It was a mere flick of the ball. You don’t really expect

the linesman or the referee to see that. “But [the Owen incident]

was a clear penalty kick as far as I’m concerned. He was definitely

brought down.” Owen himself claimed he was fouled, although he

accepted United did not play well. “Not seen TV replay but don’t

need to as I know mine was a pen,” said the former England striker

on Twitter. “Heard people saying Arsenal should of (sic) had one

too so can’t complain too much. “That was a kick in the teeth. We

were not happy with our performance but it is important to put

today behind us now and focus on things we can affect in the

future. “Still in a great position so time for one final push.”

Owen also observed that all four Champions League semi-finalists

lost this weekend, although Ferguson has already vowed to do

something about that on Wednesday, when United will try to defend a

two-goal advantage against Schalke at Old Trafford. “We have a big

week ahead,” said the United boss. ” Wednesday is a European

semi-final second leg and then the game on Sunday, so two massive

games. We will regroup and freshen it up. “I will make some changes

on Wednesday without question. I will bring Paul Scholes back in,

Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen. “We’ll need to do that but I will

probably keep my experienced players at the back.” Should United

lose next week, they will surrender top spot, on the slimmest of

goal differences, with two games remaining and turn the title race

into a two-game shoot-out “We are in as good a position as you

could ever wish for at the start of the season – semi-final of the

European Cup, second leg, two-goal lead and go into a home game on

Sunday level on goal difference.”