Football: Arsenal blitz hits Liverpool's top-four hopes

Football: Arsenal blitz hits Liverpool's top-four hopes

LONDON - Arsenal dealt Liverpool's Champions League qualification hopes a massive blow on Saturday with a stylish 4-1 victory that lifted Arsene Wenger's side to second place in the Premier League.

Arsenal scored three times in a dizzying eight-minute spell immediately prior to half-time at The Emirates, with Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, from a direct free-kick, and Alexis Sanchez on target.

Jordan Henderson hit back with a 76th-minute penalty after Bellerin felled Raheem Sterling, but after Emre Can was sent off for two bookable offences, Olivier Giroud slammed home Arsenal's fourth in stoppage time.

Arsenal moved above defending champions Manchester City, who visit Crystal Palace on Monday, and closed to within four points of leaders Chelsea, who have two games in hand, beginning with Stoke City's visit later on Saturday.

Beaten 2-1 by Manchester United before the international break, Liverpool have now lost twice in succession and trail the top four by five points ahead of the rest of the weekend's matches.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that it would be "very, very difficult" for his side to secure a place in the top four and return to the Champions League.

"It was a game we needed to take something from," he told BT Sport. "Today is a big disappointment, but we didn't defend well enough in key moments of the game." Rodgers's side, previously unbeaten in 13 games, will fall eight points below United if Louis van Gaal's men overcome Aston Villa at Old Trafford later on Saturday.

Liverpool are also at risk of being overtaken by Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, both of whom are just a point behind them.

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