London - Arsenal have moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League
thanks to a 2-0 victory over Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in
Saturday's late fixture.
WRAP: English Premiership
Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey were the scorers on a day when Liverpool would have gone top had they won.
Rodgers's visitors now find themselves back in third place, having
briefly been in second on goal difference earlier in the day after
Chelsea lost at Newcastle United.
That made it the most important
domestic fixture for both sides so far this season, with Arsenal now
facing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday before
travelling to Manchester United next Sunday.
The game was also
given extra spice by Arsenal's pursuit of Luis Suarez over the summer,
when the Gunners lodged a bid of £40 000 001 in the mistaken belief that it would trigger a release clause in
the Liverpool striker's contract.
Liverpool held on doggedly to a
player who was serving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav
Ivanovic in April and he went into this game having scored six goals in
The game began at a frantic pace and Tomas Rosicky forced Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet into an early save.
was quickly a chance at the other end for Jordan Henderson, who robbed
Cazorla and was allowed to reach the penalty area before scuffing a weak
effort at goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal's reply was to
take the lead in the 19th minute through Cazorla. The Spain midfielder
was first to Bacary Sagna's cross from the right and headed against the
post before netting the rebound.
Liverpool were aggrieved when
Henderson put the ball in the net after Suarez had played a free-kick to
Daniel Sturridge, only for referee Martin Atkinson to rule that it had
been taken too quickly.
A yellow card for Sagna for the initial
foul did not appease the visitors and although Szczesny denied Kolo
Toure from the retaken free-kick, the flag was up anyway.
3-5-2 formation had left them exposed down the flanks at times, but Jon
Flanagan -- making his first Premier League appearance since April 2012
-- had been more impressive on the right than Aly Cissokho on the other
side. Rodgers changed that at half-time, with Philippe Coutinho
It pepped Liverpool up, and Suarez in
particular, as he managed to get in behind the Arsenal defence three
times in quick succession, but to no avail.
Olivier Giroud should
have made it 2-0 after intercepting Toure's poor pass to Martin Skrtel,
but the France striker chipped into the side-netting with only Mignolet
Arsenal did not let up, however, and were rewarded with a
goal from Ramsey in the 59th minute, with the Wales midfielder finding
the net from 20 yards with a swerving effort after demonstrating
superior technique to set himself up from Mesut Ozil's pass.
Suarez almost pulled one back, but saw his effort graze the far post.
chance came Suarez's way late on as Arsenal switched off, but the
Uruguay forward fired across goal and wide, and the hosts saw out the
final few minutes with no further alarm.