Liverpool FC decimate league leaders Arsenal FC at Anfield as Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling score a brace each.
The most highly anticipated encounter of the weekend ended up being a one sided show by the Reds as the home side took apart Arsenal with an inspired display on the pitch. The game was over in the first 20 minutes of the match itself as Liverpool raced to a 4-0 lead and never looked back from that point. As good Liverpool were in this game, Arsenal went missing in this game as none of the players turned up for the Gunners on the pitch. In fact despite conceding five goals Wojciech Szczesny was perhaps their best player on the pitch, followed by the cross bar which saved Luis Suarez’s wonderful effort in the first half.
This loss now means both Manchester City and Chelsea can overtake them in the league by the end of the day if they manage to win their respective games. Considering that the game against Liverpool marked the beginning of a tough run of games for Arsenal in February and March, a lot of questions will now be asked about the title winning credentials of this team after this performance, or lack of it. Liverpool on the other hand have sent out a strong message with this win. Although Brendan Rodgers has played down his side’s chances of winning the league, the fact remains that the Reds are now just five points behind Arsenal.
The home side started the match on the front foot and Martin Skrtel scored two goals from two set-pieces in the opening ten minutes. The first of which came in the opening minutes of the game from a free kick delivered by Steven Gerrard, while the second arrived from a corner. Even before Arsenal could recover from these blows, Liverpool scored a third with Raheem Sterling finishing off a wonderful move.
The Arsenal defence was exposed by the non-existent midfield and Liverpool could have scored six or seven goals by the end of the first half. They did add their fourth goal in the 20th minute of the match as Daniel Sturridge finished past Szczesny after being set up by a wonderful through ball by Philippe Coutinho.
The home side started the second half like they started the first half, with a goal. Raheem Sterling completed his brace, something which he deserved based on his overall performance in the game. Arsene Wenger made three changes soon after conceding that goal and Arsenal got a consolation goal as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won a penalty and Mikel Arteta stepped up to score from the spot.
Brendan Rodgers was delighted with his side’s performance and praised their tactical organisation and pressing upfront.
“Overall, the players were tactically brilliant and you saw their appetite and hunger for the game. That was important for us.
“We were brilliant today, a wonderful performance in such a prestigious game between the two teams. We do a lot of work on our pressing. I always feel if we press well, we can pass well.
“To play like that, not just the result, but the performance level was absolutely out of this world. I’m very pleased and it’s another marker for us that we’re getting better and improving all the time.” – The Liverpool manager said after the game.
Rodgers also insisted that this amazing result, along with other big wins this season will provide a massive impetus in development of the younger players in the squad.
“We’ve had a number of great wins and a number of outstanding performances.
“Tottenham away was outstanding; Everton at home we were outstanding in a pressure game; we got the result against Manchester United and played reasonably well.
“This year was going to hopefully be another big step for our development. Look around the team – we’ve got 19-year-old players, Raheem Sterling was incredible.
“We had an 18-year-old coming on, Coutinho is 21, young Jon Flanagan is 20 years of age. It’s a very young side, but with a wonderful appetite for the game and a wonderful ability to learn.
“They want to learn and progress. You can see as time goes on, the idea to press well and pass well. That was the key for us today.
“There’s no doubt we’ve been outstanding for a big part of the season.
“We’ve had one or two off days, but in the main the quality of our game has been incredible.
“The objective has always been to finish as high as we possibly can, but you have to also look at the other teams around. We’ll just keep focused and keep our concentration.
“I want to be in a position where we can really challenge for the title. The players have been incredible; we just hope to continue with that development and see where it takes us.” – Rodgers added.