NAL captain Cesc Fabregas admitted a furious dressing room tirade from manager Arsene Wenger was the inspiration behind the Anfield comeback which reignited the Gunners’ title hopes.
Wenger’s side were punished for a poor first half display by Dirk Kuyt’s 41st minute opener.
But after stunning his side into action with a furious outburst at the break, Wenger saw his men come through thanks to a Glen Johnson own goal and a stunning strike from Andrey Arshavin, who added to his four-goal burst at Anfield last season.
Victory moved the Gunners back up to third in the table, three points behind Manchester United in second with a game in hand.
But captain Fabregas admitted none of that would have been possible without the boss’ intervention.
“The boss screamed, I’ve never seen him like that before,” the Spaniard explained. “He was really disappointed in the first half and said we didn’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt if we played like that. And I think he was right. In the second half we turned it round.”
Wenger, however, remained tight-lipped as to what exactly was said at half-time, saying: “I don’t like to talk about that, I’ll keep that in the dressing room.” Instead, he admitted: “They knew it was absolutely needed to win this game and when you lose the 50-50s in big games you don’t win.
It was just to make them conscious the commitment of Liverpool was bigger.
“I don’t put it down to a lack of desire – there was a fear to lose a big game. You could see that in the first half. It showed the team can respond and they are proud.”
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez unleashed both big guns Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres on the Gunners and it was no surprise when they took the lead just before the break after dominating the opening half. Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia failed to deal with Fabio Aurelio’s free-kick under pressure from Lucas and Kuyt was on hand to steer home.
But Wenger’s rant clearly had the desired effect as the Gunners were level just five minutes into the re-start.
Samir Nasri’s innocuous cross got a slight touch from Jamie Carragher which wrong-footed Johnson, who in turn, bundled the ball past his own keeper, Pepe Reina.
Then, eight minutes later, Arshavin brought back memories of last season’s heroic display at Anfield with an emphatic finish high past the keeper.
But the Reds posed little threat thereafter and slumped to their sixth league defeat, thus piling more pressure on under-fire Benitez. “Top four is the target, it’s a long way but we need to keep going,” he said.