Arsenal move up, Man City stumble
Olivier Giroud made amends for his midweek nightmare against Monaco to set up Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium that moved Arsene Wenger’s side back up to third in the Premier League on Sunday.
Giroud was guilty of missing a succession of chances in the 3-1 Champions League defeat but showed he had put the experience behind him when he volleyed his side’s 31st minute opening goal with Tomas Rosicky wrapping up the win in the 88th minute.
Victory was hard-fought but provided the ideal response after Liverpool had increased the pressure on the Gunners in the battle for a top four finish by beating Manchester City immediately before this game.
For Everton this was the latest disappointment in an increasingly troubled Premier League campaign.
Roberto Martinez’s side paid the price for failing to make more of their long periods of territorial dominance and have now managed to win just one of their last eleven league games.
Early in the day, a spectacular long-range strikes by midfielders Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho earned Liverpool a 2-1 victory over Manchester City that seriously compromised the Premier League champions’ title defence.
After Henderson’s fine 11th-minute opener had been cancelled out by Edin Dzeko at Anfield, Coutinho curled home in sumptuous fashion from 25 yards to enhance Liverpool’s hopes of Champions League qualification.
TWO BEAUTIFUL GOALS
City now lie five points behind leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand due to their involvement in the League Cup final, and manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted that the odds were against his side retaining their title.
“It was a close game, but Liverpool won because they scored two beautiful goals,” he said. “It is three points less with one game less. Of course it is difficult to reach the top of the table if you lose three points.
Both teams had gone into the game on the back of European disappointments, but whereas City’s display suggested their 2-1 Champions League loss to Barcelona had not been fully digested, Liverpool showed no ill-effects from their penalty shootout defeat at Besiktas in the Europa League.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said their performance against City was testament to the dedication of his players.
“I have to take my hat off to the players,” said the Northern Irishman, whose side are on an 11-game unbeaten streak in the league.
“To get back at half four in the early hours of Friday morning — by the time they got to bed it was six, and they had to sleep all of Friday.
“We then did some light work yesterday (Saturday), but to come out and play like they did, they were relentless.”