Arsenal down Liverpool after devastating eight-minute spell
Prior to the game, these two teams represented being the in-form clubs of the Premier League (Arsenal winning their last six and Liverpool five in as many games), so it was always expected to be a fiery encounter at the Emirates.
The Reds began the weekend being five points off the top four and six behind the Gunners, and Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed that his side couldn’t take decent early chances. His side eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat after going down to 10 men.
It was certainly the Gunners who started the game more on the attack, and they had the first half-chance inside the opening 30 seconds, but Alexis Sanchez was wide with his effort just outside the box.
Arsenal, after some brilliant flowing play, then had an opportunity through Santi Cazorla, but Simon Mignolet did well to keep hold of the ball.
The Gunners’ pressure was clearly effective, as Kolo Toure got caught out by Aaron Ramsey, and the Welshman had a shot saved by Mignolet again; Toure cleared and made up for his error, though.
After weathering the early storm, Liverpool looked more comfortable, and should have scored at the end of the first quarter, but Lazar Markovic’s pass was just in front of Raheem Sterling, who only had the goal in front of him.
Philippe Coutinho then got good connection onto a long-ranged shot, but was just wide and not really troubling David Ospina.
Liverpool’s possessional turnaround continued, and Raheem Sterling soon after beat the defender to go through on goal, but his shot was similarly wide to Coutinho’s.
Contract rebel Sterling was highly impressive in the first half, and nearly picked out a charging Jordan Henderson, but again the pass was too far in front.
But in the 37th minute, young Spanish right back Hector Bellerin got the Gunners rolling by surging into the box before turning onto his left foot and curling it past Mignolet for his second Arsenal goal.
Just three minutes later, the hosts were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, and much-maligned Mesut Ozil did well to again beat the Belgian stopper for his side’s second.
Arenal then made it 3-0 just before injury time straight after a Liverpool attack. Sanchez’s super strike deceived Mignolet and went over his glove, to get his team’s third in just eight minutes.
Brendan Rodgers would have been left wondering how his side hadn’t got at least a goal at the break. But he brought on Daniel Sturridge to give the Reds more firepower in attack.
However, it was Olivier Giroud who had the first chance after the break, but his decent strike was held, meaning he was unable to score in his sixth successive game yet.
The Frenchman had an even better chance minutes later, but his header was superbly saved by Mignolet.
Emre Can had a low shot palmed away by Ospina at the other end. Countinho also came close again, but his effort whistled past the post.
After having one penalty turned down, Liverpool got a second as goalscorer Bellerin downed Sterling in the area. Henderson stepped up and his shot just found a way through Ospina’s fingers into the bottom left hand corner. Spaniard could count himself lucky, though, as he was already on a yellow card.
Substitute Welbeck had a late chance as he ran into the box, but Mignolet made himself big and blocked the shot.
Liverpool’s problems got worse, as Can was sent off after an earlier booking as he caught Welbeck from behind.
Cazorla had a chance to finish it off once and for all just before the 90 minutes were up, but his shot clipped the outside of the post.
But moments later, Giroud finally got his goal to continue his great form, as he now has 10 in his last 10. On the edge of the box, he also beat Mignolet to his right with his left foot, as did Bellerin and Ozil.
The loss for Liverpool all-but ends their chances of finishing in the Champions League places with seven games of the season to go. While Arsene Wenger’s men now have a nine-point cushion on the Reds, and temporarily leapfroged Manchester City into second.