Steven Gerrard scored two penalties as Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at West Ham United to complete a Merseyside win-double over London clubs on Sunday, after Everton earlier crushed a woeful Arsenal 3-0 to boost their bid for a top-four finish and a possible place in next season’s Champions League for the first time in nine seasons.
The two crucial games had a big bearing on the top of the table, with Liverpool leading on 74 points from 33 matches, two ahead of Chelsea, who have also played 33.
Third-placed Manchester City, who play Liverpool next week, have 70 points and two matches in hand, followed by Arsenal in fourth with 64 from 33 games and Everton in fifth with 63 from 32.
Liverpool continued where Everton left off by chalking up their ninth successive league win after Gerrard put them ahead in the 44th minute with his first penalty after James Tomkins handled a Luis Suarez drag-back at close range.
West Ham equalized a minute later with a controversial goal from Guy Demel after former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll appeared to foul Liverpool ’keeper Simon Mignolet in the build-up and the ball dropped to Demel, who swept it in.
Referee Anthony Taylor had a long discussion with his assistant before allowing the goal to stand, but there was also controversy surrounding Liverpool’s next goal.
Taylor ruled that West Ham goalie Adrian brought down Jon Flanagan, but TV replays show the ’keeper got a hand to the ball first.
Gerrard made no mistake with his second spot-kick, blasting the ball past Adrian into the corner to keep West Ham in 11th place.
Everton’s sixth successive Premier League win meant that although they stayed fifth, they are only a point behind the Gunners with a match in hand in the tight race for fourth.
A goal from Steven Naismith, a superb solo effort from Romelu Lukaku and a third in the 62nd minute when a Kevin Mirallas shot went in off former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta for an own-goal sent Arsenal crashing to another heavy defeat on Merseyside two months after being crushed 5-1 at Liverpool.
Also on Sunday, Norwich fired coach Chris Hughton and his backroom staff and replaced him with former player Neil Adams in a bid to stay in the top flight next season.
Norwich are 17th in the table, just five points above the drop zone and face Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in by far the toughest run-in of any of the relegation-threatened teams.