Liverpool open nine-point lead with 5-1 destruction of Arsenal






London -By Bob Bensch, – Liverpool continue to do everything they can to make the Premier League a one-horse race.



 
Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick as the Reds thrashed Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday to go nine points clear at the top of the table.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah added goals as unbeaten Liverpool extended their lead following second-placed Tottenham's 3-1 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The win gives the Reds 54 points from 20 games, 16 points more than Arsenal in fifth. 
“We still need to improve a lot of things,” defender Virgil van Dijk told BT Sport.
“We are very happy with situation at the moment, we have to keep intensity high and continue in this way.”
Arsenal took an early lead when Ainsley Maitland-Niles met Alex Iwobi's cross to the far post, but it didn't last long as Firmino struck twice in 90 seconds a short time later.
The Brazilian easily tapped home after the ball twice deflected off Arsenal players before weaving his way into the area to slot past Bernd Leno. 
Mane made it 3-1 off a cross Salah, who then converted a stoppage-time penalty after being taken down by Sokratis.
Liverpool had more chances after the break and Firmino added a spot-kick of his own after Sead Kolasinac shoved Dejan Lovren.
The Reds now turn their attention to Thursday's showdown with champions Manchester City, who are 10 points behind in third.
“It is a huge one,” defender Andy Robertson said. “Everyone in the squad has been looking at it.
“But in December we’ve knocked the games off one by one and we’ve now got a healthy lead.
“We will rest now and prepare for that game."
Tottenham's title hopes took a hit thanks to a late fightback from Wolves.
Willy Boly, Raul Jimenez and Helder Costa scored in the final 18 minutes at Wembley Stadium to cancel out Harry Kane's opener
“The second half was really good,” Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, whose side are up to seventh, said.
“It is good for the dressing room but to play like this at Wembley - the home of football - is the big thing.”
Spurs' late stumble denied them a sixth straight league win. 
"We have had a very good run in the last few weeks and to keep that level is difficult,” manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
“We are not machines. We need to understand that we cannot get ourselves in this situation.
Relegation-threatened Fulham and Cardiff City both won 1-0 with stoppage-time goals.
Aleksandar Mitrovic's score lifted Fulham past bottom side Huddersfield and Victor Camarasa's strike gave Cardiff the win at Leicester.
Fulham remain in the bottom three, but jump one spot to 18th, with Cardiff four points above them in 16th.
Brighton beat Everton 1-0 on Juergen Locadia's goal, while Abdoulaye Doucoure scored eight minutes from time to give Watford a 1-1 home draw with Newcastle.
Man City can leapfrog Tottenham into second by winning at Southampton on Sunday, while Chelsea visit Crystal Palace, Burnley host West Ham and Manchester United take on Bournemouth.

 


Sunday, December 30th 2018
By Bob Bensch,
           


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