Wenger half-time fury lifts Gunners

The Arsenal chief launched a furious broadside at his team at

half-time, with a vibrant Liverpool 1-0 ahead in this crucial

Premier League battle. Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas revealed

Wenger was so angry he told them “they didn’t deserve to wear the

shirt.” That was enough to galvanise Arsenal into a comeback that

secured a 2-1 victory to send them back to third place in the

table, six points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand. Dirk

Kuyt had given Liverpool a deserved lead at the break, and it

probably should have been two had referee Howard Webb awarded a

penalty when William Gallas floored Steven Gerrard. But after the

interval a Glen Johnson own goal changed the course of the game and

Andrey Arshavin rammed home a stunning winner. Wenger’s fury,

though, was the catalyst to Arsenal’s recovery. He said: “I will

not explain what I said at half-time (to my players). I will only

say that Liverpool dominated the first half and Arsenal dominated

the second period. “Liverpool played at a pace above us and won all

the 50-50s in the first period, and at half-time a score of just

1-0 down was good for us. “I never speak about what I say at

half-time. You respond to what you believe your team needs. I try

to be composed. I was quite composed. “But it is good that after 13

years as manager I can still surprise the players like that.” He

added: “Liverpool played very well and we played with our handbrake

on through fear. The fear of not winning big games, because we lost

against Chelsea and Manchester United. “We brought that fear into

the game. Once we had nothing to lose in the second period we

played without that fear and we controlled the game. “We were lucky

with our first goal, but the fear was in Liverpool’s camp in the

second half and we scored an outstanding goal. “From then on

Liverpool’s pace dropped and we were not really under any threat

for the final 45 minutes. “For us, we are back into contention

following the results from Saturday. We are in a good position with

a game in hand and mentally it was a massive game for us. “With

what happened on Saturday (to our rivals) we knew we needed to win

at Anfield. We did that, now it is down to consistency. “The team

who wins this title will be the one who is the most consistent, and

nobody has done that yet. “It is more than a three horse race,

there is Aston Villa, Manchester City and Spurs. There is a long

way to go. “Chelsea will drop points, they have done so already and

they will do so again. “Everyone will do that. There are so many

good teams, like Liverpool. They have Torres and Gerrard back,

Aquilani will get fitter and many teams will drop points at

Anfield. “They played in the first half with an impressive level of

performance. We now have to show consistency and character to

continue in this vein.” Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was angry

referee Webb denied his side a penalty in that dominant first

period. He said: “It would have been so much different had we been

awarded that penalty (when Gallas tripped Gerrard). “It does not

matter whether the ball has gone away from the player, it is still

a penalty if you foul him and bring him down. “These decisions can

make a massive difference. ” He added: “We paid for not making the

most of our first-half dominance. It is hard to explain after we

were on top of them so much. “(Fernando) Torres had a great chance,

we were denied a clear penalty when Gerrard was brought down and

then everything changes when we give away an own goal at the

beginning of the second period. “Everything changed. Our confidence

was low, we were conceding possession and they were controlling the

game all the time. “It was difficult to explain after we were

playing so well. But the players have suffered so many problems

this season, it is hard to keep their heads up when they suffer yet

another one like the own goal. “But we have to bounce back, we must

show character and play against Wigan on Wednesday the way we did

in the first half against Arsenal.”