Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool: Which offensive Premier League list do Arsenal top?
Liverpool arrived at the Emirates hoping to gatecrash the top four but were floored by a devastating one-two-three from Arsenal.
At kick-off in the lunchtime game Brendan Rodgers' men were five points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with the Gunners a point further on; by the final whistle Arsene Wenger's side were nine points above the Anfield outfit – and it was mainly due to three goals in eight rapid-fire minutes just before the break.
The back pages and homepages had been dominated by Raheem Sterling's contract, and he could have made the ideal PR gesture on 18 minutes by scoring – but the England man couldn't get on the end of Lazar Markovic's woefully overhit pass.
Twenty minutes later, Arsenal took the lead through Hector Bellerin, the Spaniard rampaging up from right-back, cutting inside and curling into Simon Mignolet's far corner.
Three minutes later, the Gunners bagged another left-foot curler when Mesut Ozil's free-kick marked Arsenal's 20th set-piece goal of the season, a Premier League high. And as Liverpool looked longingly toward the half-time oranges, Alexis Sanchez fired past Mignolet from the edge of the box – his own 20th of the season, albeit his first at the Emirates since January.
At half-time Liverpool replaced Markovic with Daniel Sturridge and switched to a back four; they improved but Arsenal were unthreatened. Any Liverpool hopes raised by Jordan Henderson's 76th-minute penalty were quickly quashed by Emre Can's second yellow - and finally demolished when Olivier Giroud's screamer added insult to injury time.
Wenger altered his set-up today and Arsenal opted for a high-octane pressing approach. It was a surprise to see Aaron Ramsey line up on the right of the front three, but it soon became obvious that the intention was to press Liverpool's three centre-halves in possession.
It worked in the opening exchanges as Arsenal got on top of the game. If anything the Gunners' three goals should really have come in the first 10 minutes of the half, rather than the last.
Liverpool got a foothold back in the game and the drawback of a high pressing approach is that it can leave you exposed at the back and Liverpool found some joy through the centre of Arsenal's midfield. It could have been so different had Markovic not overcooked a simple pass to Sterling.
The three quickfire goals strangled the game for Liverpool and Arsenal were relatively comfortable in the second half, even if Sterling's switch to the flank created problems for Héctor Bellerin. Overall a fantastic, resounding win for Arsenal, which takes them nine points clear of today's visitors. With seven games left, that ought to be fatal for Liverpool's chances of overtaking Arsenal in the league.
- Tim Stillman, columnist, Arseblog.com and Goonersphere.com
- Liverpool have kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 19 league matches against Arsenal.
- Liverpool’s run without conceding an away league goal ended at 596 minutes.
- Hector Bellerin (2) has scored more Premier League goals than Mario Balotelli (1) this season.
- The Gunners have scored more set-piece goals than any other PL side this term (20).
- Mesut Ozil has scored or assisted 7 goals in his last 8 league games (3 goals, 4 assists).
- Liverpool were 3 goals down at half-time for the first time since February 1994 v Southampton (0-3 down at half-time, lost 2-4).
- Aaron Ramsey, who assisted Bellerin and Sanchez, has been involved in 5 goals (2 goals and 3 assists) in his last 4 games for Arsenal.
- Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 31 goals in all competitions for Arsenal this season (20 goals, 11 assists) – 9 more than anyone else.
- Liverpool didn't have a shot on target until Emre Can’s effort in the 57th minute.
- Jordan Henderson has scored in 4 of his last 5 league appearances.
- Arsenal have seen three opponents sent off this season in the PL – two of them Liverpool players (Can and Fabio Borini).
- Liverpool have won just 1 of their last 19 games at Arsenal (W1 D7 L11).
- The Gunners have won their last 9 league games at the Emirates. The last time they were on a longer run was in November 2005 (13).
- Olivier Giroud has scored 10 goals in his last 10 matches for Arsenal in all competitions.
- Giroud is the first player to score in 6 consecutive PL appearances for Arsenal since Emmanuel Adebayor in 2008.