Liverpool were soundly beaten 4-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon, as the Reds’ top-four hopes all but disappeared in the process.
Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool
Premier League – Emirates Stadium – Saturday, 4th April 2015
Goals: Henderson pen (76); Bellerin (37), Ozil (40), Sanchez (45), Giroud (90)
Sent-off: Can (84)
Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Man United 13 days ago, as Liverpool faced Arsenal in a Premier League game of huge importance.
Daniel Sturridge could only find a place on the substitutes’ bench, Adam Lallana missed out through injury and Martin Skrtel was serving the first of his three-match ban.
Kolo Toure came in for the Slovakian, Lucas Leiva made his return from injury in midfield and Lazar Markovic also started.
Santi Cazorla forced Simon Mignolet into a good save after three minutes, and the Belgian made an even better stop to deny Aaron Ramsey seconds later. The Gunners completely bossed the opening exchanges, and the Reds looked a shambles in defence.
Liverpool had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the 19th minute, but Markovic’s pass to Sterling was over-hit with the goal gaping. Coutinho also shot wide from distance, as Rodgers’ men improved after that woeful start.
It was to no avail though, as Arsene Wenger’s side went 1-0 up after 36 minutes. Right-back Hector Bellerin curled a lovely effort past Mignolet, but he glided past Alberto Moreno far too easily.
Two minutes later Arsenal‘s lead through Mesut Ozil’s terrific free-kick, and Alexis Sanchez thundered home a third seconds before half-time. The Reds’ Champions League dreams lay in tatters at the break, in what has been an unacceptable display.
Sturridge replaced Markovic at the interval, but you couldn’t help but feel it was damage limitation for Liverpool in north London.
Mignolet made a fantastic save to deny Olivier Giroud in the 55th minute, and Emre Can tested David Ospina at the other end.
The match rather predictable petered out during the latter stages of proceedings, with Arsenal happy to protect their lead and Liverpool struggling to muster any kind of fightback.
The Reds did win a penalty with 15 minutes left to play, after Sterling was brought down, and Jordan Henderson just squeezed home the spot-kick.
It proved to be nothing more than a consolation though, and Emre Can‘s late sending off and Giroud’s excellent finish rounded off a miserable afternoon for the Reds.
The defeat surely ends Liverpool’s hopes of finishing in the top four this season, and they have failed to show up against both of their Champions League rivals in successive matches.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Toure, Sakho, Allen, Lucas, Moreno, Henderson, Coutinho, Markovic (Sturridge ’46), Sterling.
Subs not used: Jones, Johnson, Lovren, Manquillo, Borini, Brannagan
Arsenal starting XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.
Referee: Anthony Taylor