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Liverpool crush Arsenal in stellar performance

Liverpool crushed Premier League leaders Arsenal 5-1 with a stunning display of attacking football.

UNITED KINGDOM, Liverpool : Liverpool's English midfielder Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on February 8, 2014. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Liverpool crushed Premier League leaders Arsenal 5-1 with a stunning display of attacking football at Anfield on Saturday that revived their title hopes and raised doubts about the visitors' championship credentials.

The first four goals came in the opening 20 minutes as Liverpool ripped a disorganised Arsenal side to shreds, turning what has long been regarded as a three-horse title race into a four-way battle with Liverpool back in the hunt.

Two early goals from Martin Skrtel, a Raheem Sterling double and one from Daniel Sturridge lifted Liverpool to 50 points with 13 matches left to play, five points behind Arsenal and three behind Manchester City and Chelsea who are in action later.

The only bright spot for the shell-shocked Gunners, who went into the match unbeaten in eight league games, came when Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta scored with a 69th minute penalty.

It took Liverpool less than a minute to open the scoring when their Slovakia central defender Skrtel took advantage of a deflection from a Steven Gerrard freekick and kneed the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

It was Liverpool's 22nd goal from a set-piece this season, and 10 minutes later Skrtel doubled their lead with a well-directed backward glancing header that looped past the Polish keeper to make it 2-0.

Before the match Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the "defensive stability" of his side would keep them in the hunt for honours but his back line were torn to shreds as Liverpool then scored twice more in four minutes.

Sterling made it 3-0 with a tap-in following a superb run and cross from Luis Suarez after 17 minutes and went 4-0 up after 20 minutes when Philippe Coutinho left defender Laurent Koscielny floundering, allowing Sturridge to pick his spot.

Liverpool soaked up what little threat Arsenal posed before striking again to make it 5-0 after 52 minutes when Sterling got his second of the match by firing home a rebound after Szczesny had saved his first attempt.

Arsenal pulled one back when Arteta scored from the spot after Gerrard mistimed a tackle on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,

Arsenal will have a quick chance of avenging their first league defeat at Anfield since 2007 when the two sides meet in an FA Cup fifth round tie the Emirates next weekend.

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