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Arsenal dents Reds' top-four hopes
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 04 - 2015

LONDON — Arsenal trounced Liverpool 4-1 to close to within four points of Premier League leader Chelsea and Manchester United also retained its slim title hopes by beating Aston Villa Saturday.
With Chelsea in action later against Stoke City, Arsenal applied a little pressure to Jose Mourinho's side by sweeping away Liverpool before halftime at The Emirates with Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all on target. Olivier Giroud curler sealed victory in the final minute after a Jordan Henderson penalty had briefly raised Liverpool's hopes, only for Emre Can to get sent off late in the game.
“What we can master now mathematically is the top four, where we will finish,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.
“For the title we need us to be perfect and Chelsea not to be perfect, so let's focus on what we can master.”
Ander Herrera scored at the end of each half and Wayne Rooney added a spectacular strike in between as Manchester United moved above champion Manchester City into third place with a 3-1 home win over Aston Villa.
Chelsea, which hosts Stoke City, has 67 points from 29 games with Arsenal on 63 and United 62, both from 31 matches. Manchester City (61) faces Crystal Palace Monday.
Liverpool's top-four hopes are fading fast and they are on 54 points in fifth place.
Liverpool, badly disrupted by the absence of suspended defender Martin Skrtel, wasted a great chance to go ahead when Lazar Markovic fluffed a pass to Raheem Sterling who was denied a tap-in after a quick counter-attack.
Punishment came in the form of Bellerin's precise finish, Ozil's sweet free kick and a ferocious Sanchez strike.
Rooney's stunning volley set Old Trafford abuzz as United racked up a fourth consecutive victory but the team received mixed reviews from manager Louis van Gaal.
It was a good day for teams striving to avoid relegation.
Andy King's scrambled late goal earned bottom club Leicester City a precious 2-1 home win over West Ham United and 18th-placed Queens Park Rangers crushed 10-man West Bromwich Albion 4-1 for a rare away victory.
Hull City's worries deepened, however, after a 3-1 loss at Swansea City.
Leicester is still four points adrift of 17th-placed Sunderland who plays Newcastle United Sunday, but QPR is only a point below the relegation cut-off.
Everton all but ensured safety with a 1-0 win over Southampton whose hopes of a top-four spot now look forlorn.
Middlesbrough goes top
Middlesbrough's on-loan Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford netted his 15th league goal of the season to help the second-tier promotion chasers top the Championship table with a 1-0 home win over Wigan Athletic Friday.
Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough has 75 points, one ahead of Bournemouth which drew 1-1 at Ipswich Town, and two in front of third-placed Norwich City after the Canaries won 1-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion, thanks to Bradley Johnson's second-half goal.
Watford is fourth, on the same tally of 73 points as Norwich but with an inferior goal difference, after drawing 2-2 in a topsy-turvy encounter at sixth-placed Derby County.
Brentford is fifth on 69 points after romping to a 4-1 victory at London neighbours Fulham. Ipswich and Wolverhampton Wanderers are a further point back in seventh and eighth respectively, on the same points as Derby. There are six games left in the season. The top two go up to the Premier League and the next four teams battle it out in the playoffs for one remaining promotion slot. — Agencies

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