ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger hailed a “fantastic night” after Abou Diaby’s goal blew the title race back open.
Midfielder Diaby struck with a bullet 72nd-minute header from Tomas Rosicky’s cross to settle an otherwise scrappy affair and end the Gunners’ four-match winless run.
And with both Chelsea and Manchester United crucially dropping points in the title race, it means Wenger’s men are now just six points off the Premier League summit.
“It is a fantastic night for the club because no-one realises how hard it is to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot without having any time to recover,” said Wenger, who saw his team beaten 2-0 at Chelsea at the weekend.
“It was very important to win straight away after Sunday’s disappointment, and to cut [the lead] down to six points is great for us.”
In truth, the Gunners were just about worthy of the points, but they had to be thankful for keeper Manuel Almunia, who brilliantly tipped Ryan Babel’s rasping drive onto the crossbar, and William Gallas, whose last-ditch tackle thwarted David Ngog when bearing down on goal.
The Reds were also aggrieved when Steven Gerrard’s free-kick struck the hand of Cesc Fabregas just outside the box, only for referee Howard Webb to blow for time.
“It was very clear,” boss Rafael Benitez said. “It’s always disappointing [to lose] after nine games without losing but we will fight to the end.”