Arsenal leap-frogged Manchester City into second-place in the Premier League, after they thrashed Liverpool comprehensively at the Emirates.

The Gunners started at a ferocious pace, but found themselves on the back foot for periods of the first half.  They allowed Liverpool back into the game and the visitors could have taken the lead after 18 minutes, when Lazar Markovic was through on goal, but then overhit a pass to the unmarked Raheem Sterling, who rushed his finish and failed to hit the target.  The 20-year old cut an isolated figure up front for Liverpool, in a week where he cast doubt on his Anfield future.

But the Gunners were unstoppable in the last 10 minutes of the first – half, when they scored three goals during an eight-minute flurry, right before the interval.  Hector Bellerin scored a terrific first goal for Arsenal in the 37th minute, while three minutes later Mesut Ozil curled in a left-footed free-kick.  The German striker displayed one of his sublime performances, orchestrating every action of the game.  Arsenal’s third goal arrived in the 45th minute, when Alexis Sanchez cut in and hit a crashing shot, which was his 20th goal of the season.

At the start of the second – half, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made changes in the hope for a revival; he introduced Daniel Sturridge for Markovic, but it looked as though Arsenal were going to score a fourth through Olivier Giroud, who placed a fine header, which went high over the bar.

When Bellerin made a foul on Raheem Sterling in the box, in the 76th minute, Liverpool were offered a lifeline.   Jordan Henderson scored from the spot, but all the visitors’ hopes were then sunk in the 84th minute, when they were reduced to 10 men as Emre Can picked up his second booking.

Giroud’s injury time goal put the gloss on a fine Arsenal performance; the Gunners are the team of the moment, after winning the last seven games on the spin. The three points move Arsenal up to second in the table, while Liverpool are fifth with eight points behind Manchester United. Apart from one impressive 15-minute spell in the first-half, Liverpool’s performance was poor; this will give their manager Rogers huge concerns ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup replay at Blackburn.

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