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Arsene Wenger tells injured players to handle the ball

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Wenger praises Everton display

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told his players to handle the ball if they lose possession because of injury.

Denilson collapsed with no-one around him on Saturday, allowing Everton to almost score from a counter-attack.

"I said to Denilson: 'If that happens, you have to commit a handball.' I'm very serious," said Wenger.

"If you go down, and there hasn't been a foul, you cannot ask Everton to stop their counter-attack. At least put your hand on the ball and it's a free-kick."

Had Everton scored following Denilson's injury, they would have gone 3-1 up with five minutes left to play.

But after Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia had denied James Vaughan, the home side hit back to draw 2-2.

The 21-year-old Denilson, who has only just returned from a stress fracture of his back, was carried from the pitch on a stretcher after pulling up abruptly in the centre circle, clutching his side.

Donovan enjoyed 'fun' debut

Everton's Tim Cahill ran on to the loose ball and put Vaughan through on goal, but Almunia produced a fine stop.

Arsenal's players argued that the ball should have been kicked out of play, but Wenger felt Everton were justified in their decision to play on.

Wenger remains unsure as to what caused Denilson to pull up so sharply.

"It is a little bit mysterious at the moment," he said. "It could be an intercostal (muscle) problem, but I saw him in the dressing room and he could walk quite normally.

"We have to see if it is a broken rib or if it is a deeper problem within his lungs."

Denilson, who scored Arsenal's first goal against Everton before Tomas Rosicky's late equaliser, believes the problem is not too severe.

"I don't remember what happened," said the Brazilian. "I was just running with the ball and I felt a pain in my side. I couldn't run or stop the ball, but I feel okay now.

"I am going to have a scan and then I will know how long I will be injured, but I think I will be ready for Sunday at Bolton."

Wenger was relieved to snatch a point, admitting his players were not at their best.

After watching the Gunners equalise in injury time, Wenger said: "It is two points dropped in the title race, but in this game it was one point gained.

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"Everton played very well, while we were off the pace. Our passing was too slow and not incisive enough.

"It was closer to 3-1 than 2-2 at times, but we showed spirit to come back."

Arsenal twice came from behind but will rue the fact that they did not take maximum points to pressurise title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United.

Wenger blamed a "sloppy start" but also gave credit to Everton for their performance.

"We had some problems managing Everton, they played very well and all credit to them," he said.

"We could not get them out of position, they defended well and counter-attacked well.

"We started slowly and Everton closed us down us high up the pitch, we lost confidence after that and we did not have enough creative quality today.

"But we had a fighting attitude and the spirit to come back - my players have again showed outstanding attitude.

"It is disappointing because we went into this game intending to win it but overall it is a good point today considering our performance."

Everton manager David Moyes was left frustrated that his side did not take all three points from the match, which was one of only two top-flight games to survive the big freeze.

Moyes hails 'fantastic' Everton

"We are really disappointed that we didn't win it because we deserved to," said the Scot, whose side led 2-1 thanks to goals from Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar.

"After the first game of the season, when they beat us 6-1, we wanted to show that wasn't really us and I thought we were a lot more like ourselves today."

Moyes was particularly pleased with new signing Landon Donovan, who made his debut and caused Arsenal plenty of problems.

"He did really well and I hoped I could have kept him on longer because he was a real problem to them," Moyes added.

"I think he cramped up at the end, probably because of the cold, but for 60 minutes he was very good.

"Maybe we should play in those freezing conditions every week because we played the way we wanted to play.

"We had some really good chances - better chances than Arsenal.

"We came here and had a lot of possession and we deserved more than a point, but we'll take it and try to build on it.

"We were still without nine injured players. When we get them back we will be coming to places like this and not only drawing but coming here to win the games."



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Premier League results

9 Jan 2010 23:59 UK


Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 9 Jan 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 20 29 45
2 Man Utd 21 27 44
3 Arsenal 20 30 42
4 Tottenham 20 20 37
5 Man City 19 11 35
6 Aston Villa 20 11 35
7 Liverpool 20 12 33
8 Birmingham 21 2 33
9 Fulham 20 4 27
10 Stoke 20 -7 24
11 Sunderland 20 -3 23
12 Everton 20 -6 23
13 Blackburn 20 -15 21
14 Burnley 20 -18 20
15 Wolves 20 -19 19
16 Wigan 19 -23 19
17 West Ham 20 -9 18
18 Bolton 18 -10 18
19 Hull 20 -22 18
20 Portsmouth 20 -14 14

see also
Arsenal 2-2 Everton
09 Jan 10 |  Premier League
Vermaelen laments 'stupid' goals
09 Jan 10 |  Arsenal
Saturday football as it happened
09 Jan 10 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
09 Jan 10 |  Football



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