Arsene Wenger Blamed Everybody But Himself

"Well, I thought one was a penalty and one wasn't. I'll leave you to decide which one was which." - Kenny Dalglish, Manager of Liverpool FC
Arsene Wenger has refused to give up on Arsenal winning the Premier League title despite their hopes of ousting Manchester United from top spot suffering a dramatic and seemingly devastating blow in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool. Wenger's team looked set for victory following Robin van Persie's penalty in the eighth minute of stoppage time, only for the visitors to equalise through a penalty of their own four minutes later. Arsenal are six points behind United with only six fixtures to play.

The ironies were plentiful. Dirk Kuyt's successful penalty for Liverpool saw their bitter rivals, Manchester United, clamp one hand upon a record 19th championship win. In the directors' box, Sir Alex Ferguson might have cursed Arsenal's goal, Van Persie's penalty coming in the eighth minute of the time added on for Jamie Carragher's head injury. Yet Fergie-time would come back around for him. Kuyt's goal was timed at 102 minutes.

Up the road at Wembley, Stoke City, a team that Wenger has in the past derided for their "rugby tactics", stuck five goals past Bolton to set up an FA Cup final against Manchester City, another team whose ethics Wenger has questioned. One of them will enjoy a silver-lined finish to the season. Despite what Wenger perceives as Arsenal's superior brand of football, his side will surely not.

Wenger burned with a sense of injustice. For him, there was rage and frustration, a familiar cocktail in what has been a relentlessly trying season and as he lashed out at a variety of targets he projected a certain helplessness too. He lambasted the referee, Andre Marriner, not only for the penalty decision against Emmanuel Eboue but also his time-keeping. Kenny Dalglish got it as well, for having the temerity to set up his Liverpool team in a defensive vein. It was a familiar lament. Why can't visiting teams simply lay themselves open for Arsenal to take apart?

"We conceded a penalty after 11 minutes and the extra time was only eight minutes, I don't know where this additional time came from. The referee has not explained anything to me but I know it was no penalty. What can you do about it?," said Wenger.

Asked about the penalty decisions, Dalglish the Liverpool manager mischievously added: "Well, I thought one was a penalty and one wasn't. I'll leave you to decide which one was which."

Wenger also became embroiled in a heated exchange with Dalglish, regarding the awarding of the second penalty. Both men refused to expand on what they had said to each other but reports suggest Dalglish swore at his counterpart.

It had been a momentous week for Arsenal, with Stan Kroenke's takeover and the death of Danny Fiszman. The Arsenal players' black armbands were as much for the visionary director as the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy. Kroenke was in the directors' box; he missed his Denver Nuggets in NBA play-off action for the first time and he might have squirmed with every other Gooner.

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