Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2: Wenger heaps praise on ‘special’ Van Persie

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is full of praise for star striker Robin van Persie after the Dutchman's double downed Liverpool

Premier League, 3 March 2012, Anfield
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Arsene Wenger watched Robin van Persie complete Arsenal’s smash-and-grab job at Liverpool – and then admitted the Gunners cannot afford to lost the Dutchman in the summer.

The prolific striker hauled the visitors back level in the first half when he headed home Bacary Sagna’s cross to cancel out Laurent Koscielny’s unfortunate own-goal – which came just moments after Wojciech Szczesny had superbly denied Dirk Kuyt from the spot.

And Van Persie then netted a sublime 92nd-minute winner, volleying home Alex Song’s chipped pass to hand the Gunners the three points and keep them in fourth place in the table.

“You can never afford to lose a player of that [Van Persie’s] quality,” said Wenger after the game. “But at the moment you have to give him big credit because in every game he turns up and [produces] something special.

“When you see the ball landing at the feet of Van Persie, you know that he can give a special goal. From not a lot, he did a lot.”

Wenger conceded that his side were outplayed for much of the first half as Kenny Dalglish’s men enjoyed long spells of possession – but the Frenchman felt the visitors found their feet after the break.

“In the second half we had big chances, our problem was the first half, when we were not in the game.

“What was fantastic is that it was 1-1 at half-time because we could have been two or three down. The second half was much more level. They didn’t create clear-cut chances and we had two or three clear-cut chances.

Reflecting on the result and the race for a fourth-place finish, Wenger added: “It gets us away from Liverpool in a substantial way and it keeps the confidence high. We are on a good run now and we play at home next week [against Newcastle].

“It also puts us in a good position to make the impossible possible on Tuesday night [when Arsenal will look to turn around a 4-0 deficit against AC Milan]. We’ll have a go and let’s see.

“Maybe we got a bit lucky with the three points today but you take them when you can.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Dalglish felt his side were hard done by after an impressive display. “To come away without three points is disappointing,” he said. “The performance was outstanding,”

“Van Persie got two – we could have allowed him two with the opportunities we had and still won. Maybe that might be the next education for us – to be ugly and win.

“We’re competitive, all right. We’re attack minded, we can go forward, we can create chances and we can get penalties. Maybe the next bit is to be ugly and get the winning goal.”

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