London - Arsenal delivered a brutal lesson in fast-paced Premier League
football to beat Liverpool 4-1 on Saturday, maintaining their faint
title aspirations and almost certainly dashing their opponents' hopes of
a top-four finish.
While Liverpool's defending was catastrophic
at times, Arsenal fizzed with intent and three goals in eight first-half
minutes from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and a late
curler from Olivier Giroud secured a 10th Premier League win in 11
That moved them above Manchester City into second place
on 63 points, four behind leaders Chelsea, who will be looking over
their shoulders at their in-form London rivals even though Jose
Mourinho's side have two games in hand.
who netted a penalty through Jordan Henderson before Giroud's effort,
now look out of the running in the battle for Champions League
qualification after a second consecutive defeat.
afternoon for the visitors was capped off by a late red card for Emre
Can and the result meant the gap to fourth place could be extended to
eight points if Manchester United beat Aston Villa later on Saturday.
much of the pre-match debate had focused on Liverpool forward Raheem
Sterling's on-going contract impasse, within minutes of kickoff it was
clear that more pressing issues lay with the visitors' defence.
back-three spent the opening minutes regularly gifting the ball to the
hosts in dangerous areas and their only chance of the half was
inexplicably wasted by Lazar Markovic, who tried and failed to pass to
Sterling when through on goal.
The breakthrough came after 37
minutes when Bellerin was allowed time to cut inside the Liverpool box
before curling a superb finish past Simon Mignolet.
defending on the day it seemed remarkable that it was the first goal
Liverpool had conceded on the road in more than nine hours after keeping
six successive clean sheets.
Arsenal doubled the lead two minutes
later when Ozil stepped up to curl a free kick around the wall and into
the net and Sanchez smashed home from outside the box to make it 3-0.
hosts would have increased their lead but for a stunning save from
Mignolet to deny Giroud's header at the start of the second half before
Liverpool were given a faint lifeline when Sterling was felled in the
Henderson squeezed his penalty past David Ospina with 14 minutes remaining.
hope of a comeback was extinguished, however, when Can received a
second yellow card for a foul on substitute Danny Welbeck and Giroud
added a coat of gloss when he curled in from 20 metres in stoppage time.