Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool: Gunners go second after scintillating first half (video)
Arsenal beat Liverpool 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as a stunning eight-minute spell at the end of the first half blew their opponents away as the Gunners recorded a seventh-straight Premier League win.
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A wonderful strike from Hector Bellerin set them on their way, then a curling free kick from Mesut Ozil doubled their lead before Alexis Sanchez smashed home a third on the stroke of half time. Liverpool improved in the second half and pulled one back late on through Jordan Henderson’s penalty kick, but Olivier Giroud scored a stoppage time stunner to make it 4-1 as Arsene Wenger’s side prevailed in sensational fashion.
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With the win Arsenal move up to second in the PL on 63 points, four points behind leaders Chelsea, while Liverpool stay in fifth and could move eight points away from the top four by the end of the weekend.
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Early on the Gunners came flying out of the traps and forced Simon Mignolet into two fines saves inside the first five minutes. First, Sanchez cut inside and drilled a shot on goal which Mignolet saved well and moments later Arsenal really should have been 1-0 up as Aaron Ramsey capitalized on Kolo Toure losing the ball but the Welshman had his effort saved by Mignolet and Toure cleared he loose ball as Santi Cazorla looked to pounce.
After a shaky start, Liverpool settled down and Raheem Sterling caused plenty of problems with his pace on the break. In the 19th minute the Reds wasted a glorious chance to go ahead as Philippe Coutinho played in Lazar Markovic and as the Serbian went clean through he tried to slot in Sterling for a tap-in but put too much on his ball as a superb opportunity to open the scoring was squandered.
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Sterling had another chance on the break as Liverpool started to grow into the game, as Arsenal’s fans became restless, but before the break they were celebrating. In the 37th minute right back Bellerin cut in off the flank, beat Alberto Moreno and curled in a wonderful shot with his left foot to put the Gunners 1-0 up. In the 40th minute it got even better for Arsenal as Ozil curled in a stunning free kick into the top corner from 25-yards out to make it 2-0. On the stroke of half time the Gunners made it 3-0, as Sanchez picked up the ball and rifled home an unstoppable strike from the edge of the box. Liverpool were in shock, as the Gunners stuck three times in eight minutes at the end of the first half.
In the second half Arsenal’s onslaught continued, as Mignolet tipped Giroud’s header over the bar as Liverpool’s back line struggled to contain the Gunners. Emre Can, who was shifted to right back at half time with Liverpool in full damage-limitation mode and reverting to a back four, broke forward and forced David Ospina into a fine stop as the Reds threatened again through Coutinho soon after but his shot squirmed wide.
Late on the Gunners gave away a penalty kick as Bellerin brought down Sterling in the box and Henderson stepped up to slam home the spot kick and make it 3-1 but that was as good as it got for Liverpool, as Can was sent off for two yellows late on and they lost a second-straight match. Giroud smashed in a great late goal to make it 4-1, as Arsenal continue their surge towards the top.
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Gabriel, 49'), Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey (Flamini, 62'), Ozil (Welbeck, 73'), Sanchez, Giroud
Goals: Bellerin (37'), Ozil (40'), Sanchez (45'), Giroud (90+1')
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Toure, Sakho, Allen, Lucas, Moreno, Henderson, Coutinho, Markovic (Sturridge, 45'), Sterling
Goal: Henderson (77')
Red card: Can (84')