Match ends, Arsenal 4, Liverpool 1.
- Arsenal score three goals in eight first-half minutes
- Liverpool nine points behind Gunners
- Arsenal 10 wins from 11 league matches
- Can shown first red card of Liverpool career
Arsenal tightened their grip on a place in the Premier League's top four while inflicting damage on Liverpool's Champions League aspirations with a convincing victory at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners set the platform for a vital three points with a devastating burst of three goals in the last eight minutes of the first half from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Raheem Sterling - starting up front for Liverpool after the midweek interview with the BBC that cast further doubt on his long-term Anfield future - battled hard and won a late penalty from which Jordan Henderson pulled a goal back.
In reality, however, this was little other than an afternoon of unrelenting misery for an abject Liverpool, who had Emre Can sent off for two bookable offences before Olivier Giroud delivered the final blow with a spectacular fourth for Arsenal in the closing seconds.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will feel a place in next season's Champions League is now within his grasp but Liverpool's hopes are fading as they followed up the 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United by being convincingly outplayed.
The win puts Arsenal nine points ahead of Liverpool with seven games left, while manager Brendan Rodgers' side also trail Manchester United by five points before Saturday's meeting with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Sterling was a man in the spotlight after his outspoken explanation of his contract impasse at Anfield - and while he fought as hard as any Liverpool player to fashion something in a losing cause, he was powerless to influence events.
Liverpool were without captain Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, who were serving three-match suspensions for stamping in last month's match against Manchester United.
The decision to draft veteran Kolo Toure into defence, while he was certainly not solely to blame, contributed to a calamitous first 45 minutes at the back for the visitors.
|Arsenal away-day blues for the Reds|
|Liverpool have won just one of their past 19 away games in all competitions against Arsenal (W1 D7 L11).|
Toure was rescued by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet when he was caught in possession as Arsenal swarmed all over Liverpool in the early moments - but once they settled down it was suddenly the Gunners who looked under pressure.
Indeed, it was Liverpool who should have gone ahead after 18 minutes when Philippe Coutinho sent Lazar Markovic through on goal but he mysteriously passed on responsibility to Sterling, matters made worse by the failure to find his intended target.
There was little indication of the mayhem to come as the game moved towards the interval - but Arsenal delivered three heavy hits to Liverpool in the final eight minutes of the half.
Bellerin's finish for the first, cutting in from the the right before a precise left-foot finish into the bottom corner, was exemplary but the defending of Liverpool's Alberto Moreno was nothing short of shambolic as he virtually ushered his opponent into a dangerous position.
Arsenal's second came three minutes later as Ozil curled a delightful 25-yard free-kick beyond Mignolet and the third arrived on the stroke of half-time when Sanchez scored with a thunderous shot from the edge of the area - although it passed suspiciously close to Liverpool's keeper before going in.
Rodgers introduced Daniel Sturridge for Markovic at the start of the second half in the hope he would act as the catalyst for an unlikely comeback but it was Arsenal who came close to a fourth as it required a fine reflex save from Mignolet to divert Giroud's header over the top.
Liverpool were offered some hope with 14 minutes left when they were awarded a penalty for Bellerin's foul on Sterling. Henderson's penalty was not exactly convincing but it did the job as it sneaked past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.
Any Liverpool hopes of a comeback were soon snuffed out when Can, who had been shown a foolish yellow card for dissent, made a wild challenge on Arsenal substitute Danny Welbeck and was sent off.
It was fully deserved but there was an element of justification to Liverpool's protests after Bellerin escaped a second yellow card after conceding a penalty.
Giroud's final goal was simply the gloss on a fine Arsenal display - and the final insult for Liverpool.
- 39BellerínBooked at 70mins
- 6KoscielnySubstituted forGabrielat 49'minutes
- 16RamseySubstituted forFlaminiat 62'minutes
- 11ÖzilSubstituted forWelbeckat 73'minutes
- 23CanBooked at 84mins
- 4K Touré
- 50MarkovicSubstituted forSturridgeat 45'minutes
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, Liverpool 1.
Offside, Arsenal. Santiago Cazorla tries a through ball, but Danny Welbeck is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.
Goal! Arsenal 4, Liverpool 1. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.
Attempt blocked. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a headed pass.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Kolo Touré.
Second yellow card to Emre Can (Liverpool) for a bad foul.
Foul by Emre Can (Liverpool).
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Daniel Sturridge is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.
Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).
Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).
Goal! Arsenal 3, Liverpool 1. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Penalty conceded by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Liverpool. Raheem Sterling draws a foul in the penalty area.