Stevie blames himself, Rafa blames Ref

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has held his hand up and taken the blame for Liverpool’s sickening 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

Just minutes after Luis Garcia looked to have stolen a point for the Reds, Gerrard made the ‘œstupid mistake’ of playing the ball back to Jose Reina, except Gunners striker Thierry Henry was lurking to pounce on the ball and net Arsenal the winner seven minutes from full time.

After the game Gerrard said, “I thought I’d knock it back to the keeper, waste a bit of time, but Henry was hiding behind the centre-backs.

“If there’s only one player you don’t want to it fall to it’s Henry.”

Reds boss Rafael Benitez is pointing the finger at match referee Steve Bennett who shortly before Henry’s winner had sent off midfielder Xabi Alonso for a very debateable second yellow card.

The second offence came for sliding in on Arsenal‘s Mathieu Flamini, although it appeared the Spaniard has merely slipped accidentally on the wet Highbury pitch.

Benitez said, “It was clear. Xabi slipped over. In one second it’s a yellow card but watch the video and you will have another idea.

“Unbelievable. There are things you cannot understand and you cannot explain. I don’t want to make excuses. I prefer not to talk about it.

“You can see the video, the replay. The referee was watching the other side and after it was a yellow card.

“Xabi has slipped over, the referee continues the game and then he gives the yellow card. I can’t understand it.

“The linesman had his flag down. We watched the replay – maybe [the officials] talked with telepathy. Maybe the crowd has telepathy also with the referee.

“It is the turning point of the game. We didn’t play as we wanted to in the first half, we made a mistake and we were losing 1-0. In the second half we get back into the game, we take control, we were creating more chances going forward and we thought we could win.

“But after this sending off, we have one holding midfielder, Gerrard.

“In the second half we were going forward until the referee decided to send off Xabi.”

A frustrated Benitez, who saw his side lose two games in a row ending a miserable week for the club, revealed he sympathises with Gerrard and doesn’t blame him for the disappointing result.

“It was a difficult situation for him. He was watching some players and it was difficult,” said Benitez.

“Maybe if you are drawing and you have 10 players you can clear the ball.

“In this case he decided to play the ball because for him it was an easy pass. You can make mistakes.

“He knows he’s made a mistake but he has scored 18 goals and you need to put that in the balance.

“It’s not necessary for him to say anything. He knows, we know and everybody has seen it, all of us.”

Meanwhile Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says, “It would have been a travesty if Arsenal had not won today.”

The French manager now thinks Liverpool are in danger of losing third place to his team. He continued, “I felt that if we were to win today, we can do it.

“It was a bit of hangover from the Champions League exit for them today. The fact you qualify gives you the edge even when you are tired.”

And goalscorer Henry believes Gerrard’s mistake was ‘˜unfortunate’ but that the hosts deserved to win.

He told Sky Sports, “I just saw that he (Gerrard) didn’t unfortunately notice I was waiting and I gambled. I do it every game but it’s only the second time in my career it’s worked for me.

“After missing a chance I said to myself I’m going to have to do something before I leave the pitch. Overall, no disrespect to Liverpool, I think we did deserve to win.”

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