Premier League
Liverpool5Arsenal1

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal

Raheem Sterling

Liverpool made a mockery of Arsenal's status as Premier League leaders by handing out an emphatic beating at Anfield.

The Gunners arrived on Merseyside high on confidence at the top of the table, but were demolished as Liverpool scored four in a devastating opening 20-minute burst that could have brought them even more goals.

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'Breathtaking' display delights Rodgers

Martin Skrtel turned in two set-pieces and when Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge also hit the target for rampant Liverpool, a shell-shocked Arsenal's confidence was reduced to tatters.

Liverpool, unsurprisingly, were unable to maintain that level of dominance in the second half, but Sterling added his second before Mikel Arteta pulled a goal back for Arsenal from the penalty spot.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must now rebuild morale and belief before Wednesday's home meeting with Manchester United and an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Liverpool next weekend, leading into the Champions League confrontation with holders Bayern Munich.

Wenger has maintained confidence in his Arsenal side all season, but this will now be their severest test after a defeat that was far more comprehensive than even the scoreline suggests.

As for Liverpool, they continue an impressive pursuit of a top-four place and a return to the Champions League - and they are now only five points behind Arsenal.

Liverpool swept away the Gunners in exactly the same manner as Everton were beaten here at Anfield, in a storm of speed, pressing and deadly finishing that was a testimony to the growing threat of Brendan Rodgers's team.

The signals for a harrowing 90 minutes to come were posted inside the first minute when Skrtel cashed in on some flat-footed Arsenal defending to divert Steven Gerrard's angled free-kick past Wojciech Szczesny.

Liverpool's only moment of anxiety in a magical first half came when goalkeeper Simon Mignolet inexplicably punched a clearance straight at Jon Flanagan - but otherwise Arsenal were overwhelmed.

Liverpool's second came via Skrtel and another set-piece, the defender showing great agility to head Gerrard's corner past Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the goal-line.

The speed with which Arsenal's effort and performance deteriorated in the immediate aftermath of that goal will have horrified Wenger as Liverpool ran riot.

Sturridge should have added a third but a rare blemish in front of goal saw him put a lofted finish just wide before sending in a low cross that just failed to find Luis Suarez.

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'Passive' Arsenal were poor - Wenger

Suarez almost added what could have been the best of his collection of brilliant Anfield goals this season with a volley of stunning quality and technique that struck the angle of post and bar with Szczesny helpless, Kolo Toure wasting a chance from the rebound.

Liverpool were inflicting wave after wave of attacks on Arsenal and the third eventually came, Sterling steering in a simple chance from Suarez's cross.

And as Wenger stood motionless in his technical area, Sturridge made it 4-0 after only 20 minutes, taking Philippe Coutinho's perfectly weighted pass in his stride to beat Szczesny.

If Arsenal expected respite after the break, it did not arrive and Sterling added the fifth in the 52nd minute. Once again Arsenal were ruthlessly exposed by Toure's pass and even though Szczesny saved Sterling's first effort, he was able to turn in the rebound in front of the Kop.

Wenger made a triple change on the hour, sending on Kieran Gibbs, Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky for Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and the desperately poor Mesut Ozil.

Suarez demonstrated his brilliance once more with an angled free-kick that was heading for the top corner until Szczesny's intervention.

Arsenal finally got on the scoresheet after 69 minutes when Gerrard upended Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arteta scored from the spot, the Spaniard almost adding a second immediately as Mignolet did well to see his free-kick through a crowded area to save.

Liverpool closed out the win to leave Arsenal facing the most searching questions of their impressive season.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers:

"It was breathtaking, some of our play. The intensity of our pressing and the goals were fantastic. It gave us a great platform.

"We've been doing it most of the season. Obviously this is a high-profile game and everyone is looking at it.

"The players have been brilliant with their hunger and appetite of the game. We've a lot of young players who want to learn and improve and when you mix that with experienced players, it's a great mix."

Check out photos from Saturday's Premier League matches on the BBC Sport Facebook page.

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 38Flanagan
  • 20Cissokho
  • 8GerrardSubstituted forIbeat 76'minutes
  • 37Skrtel
  • 4K Touré
  • 14HendersonBooked at 47mins
  • 10Coutinho
  • 15SturridgeSubstituted forAllenat 66'minutes
  • 7SuárezSubstituted forIago Aspasat 86'minutes
  • 31Sterling

Substitutes

  • 1Jones
  • 6Romero Alconchel
  • 9Iago Aspas
  • 12Moses
  • 24Allen
  • 33Ibe
  • 34Kelly

Arsenal

  • 1Szczesny
  • 3Sagna
  • 17MonrealSubstituted forGibbsat 61'minutes
  • 10WilshereBooked at 59mins
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 6Koscielny
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 8Arteta
  • 12GiroudBooked at 47minsSubstituted forPodolskiat 60'minutes
  • 11ÖzilSubstituted forRosickyat 61'minutes
  • 19Cazorla

Substitutes

  • 7Rosicky
  • 9Podolski
  • 21Fabianski
  • 23Bendtner
  • 25Jenkinson
  • 28Gibbs
  • 44Gnabry
Referee:
Michael Oliver
Attendance:
44,701

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamArsenal
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home22
Away11
Shots on Target
Home12
Away6
Corners
Home6
Away6
Fouls
Home14
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 5, Arsenal 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 5, Arsenal 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aly Cissokho (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mikel Arteta with a cross.

  5. Post update

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Aly Cissokho (Liverpool).

  7. Post update

    Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

  8. Post update

    Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Aly Cissokho.

  11. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jordon Ibe (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Wojciech Szczesny.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aly Cissokho.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Iago Aspas replaces Luis Suarez.

  16. Post update

    Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Jordon Ibe (Liverpool).

  18. Post update

    Offside, Liverpool. Luis Suarez tries a through ball, but Raheem Sterling is caught offside.

  19. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Luis Suarez (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Raheem Sterling.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea25175347202756
2Arsenal25174448262255
3Man City25173568274154
4Liverpool25155563303350
5Everton24129337251245
6Tottenham2413563132-144
7Man Utd24124839291040
8Newcastle25114103234-237
9Southampton259973629736
10Swansea2576123235-327
11Hull2576122530-527
12Aston Villa2576122736-927
13Stoke2568112640-1426
14Crystal Palace2582151834-1626
15West Ham2567122633-725
16Norwich2567121937-1825
17Sunderland2566132538-1324
18West Brom25411102937-823
19Cardiff2556141944-2521
20Fulham2461172253-3119
View full Premier League table

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