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Rafa blames referee for end of unbeaten run

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was left fuming after seeing his Liverpool side lose ground in the Premier League with a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates stadium.

Benitez believed his side were denied a penalty when Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas handled a free-kick from Steven Gerrard in the dying moments of injury time.

Referee Howard Webb waved away Liverpool's appeals and Benitez said after last night's game: "We are really disappointed with the decision of the handball. It was very, very clear. The players were on the line. It was a handball. It has to be a penalty if you see the replay.

"During the game you do not realise how clear the handball was but watching the replay the referee was there.

"This year we have had some decisions that we are not very happy with. Today is another one. But you cannot complain too much because you have to be ready for the next game. You cannot waste time talking about this."

Liverpool went close through Ryan Babel, whose thunderous shot was tipped onto the bar by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, but they went behind in the second half when Abou Diaby headed home Tomas Rosicky's cross.

Benitez, however, believes the race for fourth place and the prized Champions League spot will go right to the end of the season.

He said: "When you lose after nine games without losing you have to be disappointed.

"They (Arsenal) are a good team but now we think about the future. The race for the fourth position will be to the end and we have to be ready for the next game.

"It is difficult for anyone to win too many games in a row. The main thing is to be calm and to keep going."

One sour note for Benitez was a torso injury which saw defender Jamie Carragher substituted in the second-half but the Liverpool boss insisted it was not serious.

He added: "I felt the team was defending well. We had some chances and maybe we could have scored, especially at the end."

On Arsenal's chances in the title race he said: "They are a good team. They have a manager with experience so why not. The league this year is very difficult because no one is winning a lot of games in a row. So you never know."