Arsenal’s stunning eight-minute first-half spell stole the spotlight from Raheem Sterling as the hosts moved into second spot with a 4-1 Premier League win over Liverpool.
The Emirates Stadium faithful were treated to three goals shortly before the break as manager of the month Arsene Wenger’s claims of still being in the title race gained substantial credibility, with his side having now won 10 of their last 11 top-flight games.
Hector Bellerin was the unlikely scorer of the 37th-minute opener and his curled effort sparked a match-winning period of dominance.
Mesut Ozil was next to contribute, shrugging off reports about his off-field activities to arrow home a stunning free-kick, with Alexis Sanchez completing a sobering end to the half for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool.
Sterling won a penalty late in the second half, converted by Jordan Henderson, but there was no way back as Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League hopes were left hanging by a thread – the visitors’ disappointing afternoon compounded when Emre Can was dismissed and Olivier Giroud added a fourth in stoppage time.
And yet the script could have read so differently if Lazar Markovic had found his passing range in the 20th minute, when he failed to supply the ammunition for Sterling – starting up front in place of Daniel Sturridge – to net what would have been a simple finish.