Gunners defeat Liverpool to go five points clear

AFP, LONDON

Mon, Nov 04, 2013 - Page 20

Arsenal reasserted their title credentials on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Liverpool that sent them five points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

Arsene Wenger had seen his side beaten by Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea in their previous two home games, but they prevailed through goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey to confirm their role as the team to beat.

Liverpool arrived at the Emirates Stadium hoping to leapfrog Arsenal to the top of the table, but the hosts took a 19th-minute lead when Cazorla hooked home after an initial header came back off the post.

The irrepressible Ramsey added a second just before the hour with a glorious strike, lifting a half-volley into the top-left corner from 25m to take his tally of goals to 10 in all competitions.

Luis Suarez spurned two late chances for the visitors, but Arsenal emerged unscathed as they increased their advantage over second-placed Chelsea and third-placed Liverpool to five points.

“It was a convincing win against a good team and that’s what we wanted,” Wenger said.

The display was particularly encouraging in the light of comfortable wins for Manchester City and Manchester United earlier in the day, but Wenger played down the significance of his side’s early Premier League lead.

“It’s positive and nice, but of course it’s very early in the season,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s good for the confidence of the team and the ambition as well, and hopefully it gets everybody around the team to support us and continue to do that.”

United maintained their recent momentum by beating Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage.

David Moyes’ side effectively wrapped up the contest inside the first 22 minutes through goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Alex Kacaniklic pulled a goal back for Fulham in the 65th minute, but the champions held on for a victory that elevated them to within two points of the top four.

City moved into the Champions League places after bouncing back from a 2-1 loss at Chelsea last weekend by demolishing Norwich City 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini created a stir by dropping ’keeper Joe Hart, and then saw his side race into a 4-0 lead through a Bradley Johnson own-goal and efforts from David Silva, Matija Nastasic and Alvaro Negredo.

Yaya Toure added a fifth from a free-kick before Sergio Aguero bludgeoned home in the 71st minute and Edin Dzeko added a late seventh.

Chelsea could only watch as their rivals ran riot after falling to an unexpected 2-0 loss at Newcastle United in the day’s early kick-off.

John Terry hit the bar and had a header cleared off the line in the first half for Chelsea, but Newcastle prevailed through Yoan Gouffran’s 68th-minute diving header and a late Loic Remy strike.

The day also witnessed a freak goal by Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who scored the quickest goal of the season to date with a wind-assisted 90m clearance that bounced over Southampton counterpart Artur Boruc after only 13 seconds.

However, Jay Rodriguez’s 42nd-minute header earned visitors Southampton a 1-1 draw.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce enjoyed a 1-0 home win over former club Sunderland. Carlos Cuellar’s first-half own goal decided the game in which Sunderland had both Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena sent off before half-time.

West Bromwich Albion beat Crystal Palace 2-0, while West Ham United and Aston Villa drew 0-0 at Upton Park.