Wenger: Gunners will give everything

BY foxsports • April 11, 2011

The Gunners cut United's lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points on Sunday afternoon with a controversial 3-1 win at struggling Blackpool. Wenger knows his side could further narrow the gap to a single point if they win their game in hand and beat United when the sides meet at the Emirates Stadium. It remains an outside bet but Wenger is convinced there is still enough time to overhaul United. The Frenchman said: "Today was only three points and it could help us to keep a chance. "We have promised ourselves to give everything until the end of the season. "There are still seven games. It is a long time - there are many games." Victory at Blackpool came as a welcome relief for the Gunners after a disappointing spell which had threatened to derail their season. In February the Londoners had hopes of a quadruple but amid a run which saw their Carling Cup, FA Cup and Champions League bids ended, their Premier League tilt was also derailed by three successive draws. "It was a massive disappointment," Wenger said of that spell. "You go through a period of grief and of denial first and then you have to stand up and show you have the mental strengths to respond. The team has done that remarkably well." Arsenal's afternoon in Blackpool began dramatically as goalkeeper Manuel Almunia injured himself in the warm-up and Wenger handed a start to 41-year-old Jens Lehmann for the first time in three years. And the veteran German, who was recently coaxed out of retirement to provide emergency cover, was at the centre of one of the game's main talking points. He initially had little to do as Arsenal eased ahead with goals from Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue after 17 and 20 minutes respectively. But the Tangerines, desperate for points after sliding into a relegation battle, fought back in the second half. They pulled one back early in the second half through Gary Taylor-Fletcher after DJ Campbell had collided with Lehmann. Referee Lee Mason played a good advantage to allow the goal but Lehmann was perhaps fortunate to escape punishment. Wenger, who had no goalkeeper on the bench, said: "That was the important split-second of the game. "I felt Jens played the ball. Even if he gives a penalty he can give a yellow card, not more. "He didn't try to deliberately foul - he tried to intercept the ball." Blackpool thought they should have had a penalty moments later when Taylor-Fletcher went down under a challenge from Laurent Koscielny. When asked directly about that incident, Wenger said: "I think we were unfortunate to have a few offsides who were not offside in the first half, personally." Robin van Persie eventually eased Arsenal's nerves with the third goal 14 minutes from time. Wenger said: "That is what you get with Blackpool and a team fighting relegation. I knew at 2-0 they would not give up. "We missed some chances in the first half and at 2-1 we had a little nervy period but at 3-1 we killed the game. "They had given a lot but from then it was quite comfortable." Blackpool manager Ian Holloway delayed his post-match press conference while he waited to speak to Mason in his dressing room. Holloway, who also felt his side could have had another penalty for handball, eventually emerged to speak to the media around 90 minutes after the game finished. He said: "It was very amicable. I was very calm, I can't afford not to be. "I can't describe how I feel. How that is not a penalty I just do not know, to be perfectly blunt. "But Mr Mason has given us a couple of penalties before and he didn't see it as one, nor the handball. "Those things at this level make huge, huge, huge differences. "I think the man genuinely gave what he thought he could see. If he wasn't sure, he couldn't give it. "It is a bit easier not to be sure against Arsenal but I am sure they have had a few this year when they thought they should have had one. "What annoys me is it is so easy to get it totally and utterly right - a five-second delay on a monitor." On the Lehmann incident, Holloway added: "I'd like to think he was going to blow for a penalty if Taylor-Fletcher wasn't there. "But I didn't ask him about that one - just the catalogue of others." Blackpool's form remains a serious concern after just one win in 12 games and with the team just a point above the relegation zone. Holloway added: "I'll shut up, let's get on with it and have another go against Wigan next week. "There are an awful lot of points still to play for."


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