By Wayne Veysey at Emirates Stadium
Arsene Wenger insists that Manchester United remain the Premier League favourites despite their lead at the top being reduced to three points at Emirates Stadium.
Chelsea are only one win behind United and visit Old Trafford next weekend for what promises to be a mouthwatering title showdown.
But Wenger, who says his team will not give up their own title challenge while it is mathematically possible, believes that home advantage could prove crucial to the league leaders.
“The best position remains Man United and the second best is Chelsea,” Wenger told reporters following his team’s 1-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. “I still make United favourites. When you play at home for the title there is an advantage. But if we want to have a small chance it is in our interest that Chelsea wins. It is still mathematically possible.
“If you look every year they [United] win the title, they have win it at Old Trafford. They get the points at Old Trafford. If you compare the away records [of United and Arsenal] they are always really comparable.”
Wenger was delighted that his team put their crushing three-game spell without a win behind them to defeat the league leaders.
“Until we scored the goal I feel we controlled completely the game,” said the Arsenal manager.
“Then, because we had not won a lot recently, we tried more to protect out advantage and were more under pressure. We had a good performance that had everything in it - discipline, fighting spirit and our usual passing game.
“Overall when you look back at the best games played this season you would have found Arsenal in many of the games in the Champions League and the championship. The team maybe still lacks maturity under pressure. The team has had to deal with some big disappointments that I feel that has had a subconscious effect on our team.”
Wenger was encouraged by the performance of goalscorer Aaron Ramsey, who replaced the injured Cesc Fabregas.
He said: “I’m very happy for him. When you think that his incident [injury] happened 14 months ago he looks now just to be back to his best.
“Look at the age of the team today. It is a big encouragement for the club and team. We had a very young midfield and were still very positive in our display.”
Wenger remained tight-lipped on his summer transfer market policy but insisted that critics cannot have it both ways.
“I have to be careful what I say because it can be turned both ways. We will add what is needed to be added. I feel it is very important for the club that we keep faith with what we do. The players grow when they get the chance to play.
“Like [Wojciech] Szczesny, for example, you can see that compared to two months ago, he has grown. You can only grow if, at some stage, you play. People want both ways – they want to win every game and produce quality young players.
"But if [Jack] Wilshere has grown this season it is because he has played. But, on the other hand, if you do not win, people say, 'why do you play young players?'"
Arsenal were unfortunate not to win a first-half penalty after Nemanja Vidic clearly handballed a Theo Walcott cross in the box but Gael Clichy could also have conceded a spot-kick for manhandling Michael Owen late on.
“It can be a penalty as well,” said Wenger. “It feel it is less obvious than the Vidic one, by far. [Vidic’s incident] was handball, yes. I think the ref didn’t see it. What can you do about it? This season, we have had 17 penalties against us. The second best is 12. I feel we are due a bit of luck.”
Wenger does not expect Samir Nasri or Fabregas to be out injured for too long.
“Samir has a hamstring injury, a small one, I think. Cesc has a kick on his thigh that has disrupted some fibres. We will know on Tuesday if he can practice again. He has a chance to play on Sunday.”