Wenger: 'We needed to show character to survive'

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The Independent Football
Arsene Wenger claimed the result handed a "psychological advantage" to Arsenal. "1-1 is a big blow for Chelsea," he said. His sentiments met with agreement from Chelsea's goalscorer, Eidur Gudjohnsen. "1-0 would have been perfect," he admitted. "I realised straight away it [the Arsenal equaliser] was an important goal. You could see from the reaction on their faces, also."</p>Nevertheless his coach, Claudio Ranieri, remained defiantly upbeat. "They [Arsenal] are hypothetical champions in the League and maybe in the Champions' League but before then they must kill us," he said.</p>Gudjohnsen's goal, Ranieri claimed, had restored belief. "We took our confidence and played good football," he said. "Without being anxious. With a free mind... and maybe we deserved to score a second goal."</p>Ranieri also acknowledged the support of the crowd who had chanted his name. "I want to say thank you to everybody but I want support only for Chelsea and for the players," he said. "They deserve it. The manager changes and the chairman changes but the players deserve it." Ranieri added: "I enjoyed it [the game] a lot. It was important to win and re-take our confidence. But I think that after this performance my players are happy. I'm happy. I'm pleased." He paid tribute to Arsenal saying "this season they can play in a different world and we are behind them."</p>Gudjohnsen also acknowledged the enormity of the task ahead. "We were desperate to keep a clean sheet but in the end at least we gave them a good game," he said. The Icelander added that the players had ignored the speculation over Ranieri's future.</p>Wenger said he also felt Chelsea had played well. "They were cautious and we could see that it was a European Cup game because they played not to concede any goals," he said. "They tried to suck us in and get us on the break. We maybe had a lot of possession but did not create many opportunities."</p>He said that his players "had to show a lot of character" after falling behind. "For 10 minutes they had one or two opportunities," he said. "It [the goal] gave them a big lift and for us it was a big blow and we needed to show that character to survive."</p>Wenger added: "It was important for us to score a goal and come back to 1-1. And that's a good result for us." He refused to speculate on whether Arsenal were now favourites but added "my main worry is to win the game at Highbury. We have a good opportunity to win it. And we really want to win it." The manager said the goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had conceded he was to blame for Chelsea's goal. </p>