Arsenal were truly outplayed by a rampant Liverpool side at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. For the Arsenal fans, the whole performance was truly unbearable, with the first 20 minutes being one of the worst Arsenal performances in recent years. Liverpool made a mockery out of Arsenal’s status as league leaders as they sailed to a 5-1 win to go within five points of the Gunners.
Liverpool started superbly, just as they did in the Merseyside derby, scoring within the first two minutes. Steven Gerrard whipped in a free-kick and Skrtel, unmarked inside the six-yard box, guided the ball past Wojciech Szczesny with his thigh. Liverpool then doubled the lead from another Gerrard - Skertel combination, this time from a corner kick, as the unmarked center-back headed the ball with power past Oxlade Chamberlain,who was guarding the post.
Liverpool almost added a superb third as a corner fell to Suarez 30 yards from goal, drilling in a shot that smashed off the post. From the rebound, Kolo Toure stabbed wide with the goal at his mercy. Not long after, Raheem Sterling then added the third goal as Jordan Henderson stole the ball from a hesitant Mesut Ozil on the halfway line. He sprayed the ball out wide to Suarez, who found Sterling with a low cross at the back post for an easy finish. Daniel Sturridge also hit the target for Liverpool inside twenty minutes as he slid the ball past the Arsenal goalkeeper after a sublime through ball from Coutinho. 4-0 after twenty minutes saw Arsenal absolutely shell shocked and Liverpool brimming with confidence with the Kop in full voice.
Liverpool didn’t keep up their level of dominance in the second half, but Arsenal by no means made up for the first half misery. Raheem Sterling added his second goal to make it 5-0 to Liverpool after he broke the offside trap from a Kolo Toure pass. Then, after seeing his initial effort saved by Szczesny, the winger was able to slot home at the second attempt. Sterling then had a couple off opportunities for his hat-trick but failed to score. The impressive Brazilian midfielder Coutinho almost created a sixth goal for Liverpool on the 67th minute when he wriggled past a couple of Arsenal challenges and picked out Henderson’s run with a sumptuous pass, only for the midfielder to chip his effort wide of the target.
Arsenal then scored a consolation penalty kick through Mikel Arteta after Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought down in the box by Steven Gerrard for a stone wall penalty. Arteta came close to reducing the deficit and restoring some pride, however he saw his superb drilled free kick from twenty five yards saved my Mignolet.
This particular match highlights just how open the Premier League is this season; Arsenal finished the day in second place after being two points clear of Manchester City and Chelsea before the games. Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 win against Newcastle, with a hat-trick from Eden Hazard, which sent them to the top of the table. Meanwhile, the free-scoring Manchester City were surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw by Norwich City, meaning that they lay third in the table. After dropping three points, it is vital that Arsenal beat Manchester United at home on Wednesday night to keep their title hopes alive.
This result also means that Liverpool have re-ignited their title hopes, although they are still a little way behind the top 3 you cannot possibly discount them from making a late push for the title, and they must now be favorites to take the fourth Champions League qualification spot.
Arsenal face Liverpool again next Sunday in the FA Cup fifth round, which should be a fantastic cup tie with the Gunners now seeking out revenge. Arsene Wenger now has the job of trying to improve morale so the Arsenal players can put this shambolic performance behind them. It also now looks as though the media have given Wenger a larger headache with two rumors, the first being bust up between Per Mertesacker and Yaya Sanogo, and the other being married Olivier Giroud’s alleged ‘romp’ at the Arsenal team hotel at 3:00am.
Meanwhile Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his Liverpool side can continue winning in their rich vein of form and make a real push for the Premier League title, as well as trying to progress in the FA Cup.
Written by Dan Bannell