London, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Arsenal's run of positive form continued in a big way on Saturday as the Gunners eased to a comfortable 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.
Both sides entered the clash needing three points for very different reasons. Arsenal, the in-form squad in the Premier League came into the matching riding a six-match winning streak across all competitions.
Liverpool, meanwhile. were in search of a rebound performance to kick start their top-four hopes again after a poor performance in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United prior to the international break.
The defeat to Manchester United saw captain Steven Gerrard sent off with a straight red card and defender Martin Skrtel was retroactively given a three- match ban for a stamp on United goalkeeper David De Gea.
Both of those players were unavailable for Liverpool on Sunday and their absences were apparent right from the outset as Arsenal was on the front foot early.
The Gunners maintained almost exclusive possession of the ball for the opening 10 minutes before Liverpool could settle into the game and the opening goal came in the 37th minute when Hector Bellerin collected the ball on the right side of the pitch, cut inside and ripped it past Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet with a well-place left footed strike.
Three minutes later the hosts doubled the lead when Mesut Ozil found the back of the net with an excellent, curling free kick from 25 yards out, and Alexis Sanchez capped a dominant first half with a third goal on the stroke of halftime, blasting one into the roof of the net on the half-volley.
It was the first time Liverpool had been 3-0 down at the break in a Premier League match since 1994, and things didn't get any better in the second half.
Liverpool pulled one back in the 76th minute through a penalty kick from Jordan Henderson, but defender Emre Can was shown a second yellow card and sent off in the 84th minute, allowing the Gunners to add a fourth goal through Olivier Giroud in stoppage time.
The result sees Arsenal jump into second place and improve to 63 points from 31 matches played, while Liverpool's top-four hopes took another hit as the club remains in fifth place on 54 points seven behind Manchester City in fourth place.
Also in the Premier League on Saturday. Manchester United moved into third place with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Ander Herrera opened the scoring for the Red Devils after 43 minutes and Wayne Rooney doubled the advantage with an excellent strike in the 79th minute. Villa answered with a goal from Christian Benteke less than a minute later, but Herrera completed a brace in stoppage time to take United ahead of their derby rivals Manchester City.
Chelsea extended its lead atop the table to seven points over Arsenal with a 2-1 win against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.
Eden Hazard gave the Blues with lead with a 39th-minute penalty kick, but Stoke found a spectacular equalizer in the 44th minuet when Charlie Adam caught Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois off his line and smashed it over his head from about 65 yards out, stunning the home crowd.
But the winner came in the 62nd minute when Loic Remy tapped home from close range following a bad giveaway by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Everton claimed a much-needed three points on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Southampton at Goodison Park courtesy of a 16th-minute strike from defender Phil Jagielka, while bottom club Leicester City claimed a 2-1 win over West Ham United at the King Power Stadium.
Bafetimbi Gomis scored on either side of the intermission and Sung-Yueng Ki added a third goal as Swansea City took all three points with a 3-1 win over 10-man Hull City at the Liberty Stadium.
Finally on Saturday, Queens Park Rangers pulled to within one point of safety with their best performance of the season, a convincing 4-1 thumping of West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Eduardo Vargas opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora found the back of the net to give the Hoops a 3-0 lead at the break.
Victor Anichebe pulled one back in the 58th minute for West Brom, but Joey Barton sealed the points for QPR with a fourth goal in stoppage time.