LONDON: Liverpool were comfortable winners at Arsenal on the Premier League’s resumption after the international break while Manchester City and West Brom – surprisingly – were easy winners over Leicester and Chelsea.
Substitute Diogo Jota scored twice as Liverpool showed they remain one of the best sides in the Premier League by completely outclassing Arsenal to win 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City’s win at Leicester earlier in the day meant Liverpool’s hopes of retaining their title are now mathematically over after a season of mixed performances, poor results and terrible injury problems.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side were at their scintillating best, dominating an Arsenal side missing a number of their own key players to secure victory courtesy of a brace from Jota either side of a Mohamed Salah strike.
This was Mikel Arteta’s 50th Premier League fixture in charge of Arsenal and before the game he called for the Gunners to take the game to Liverpool, having won the corresponding fixture last year with a mixture of guile, guts and luck.
But Liverpool were on top from the get-go as the visitors showed their class – specifically in midfield where Thiago and Fabinho were at their best.
Arsenal sorely missed their injured quartet of David Luiz, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe – who would have all been likely starters on what would prove to be a galling night for the FA Cup holders.
James Milner came into the Liverpool side and dragged an early shot wide, as did Fabinho.
Sadio Mane then saw a header saved before fit-again Roberto Firmino shot just off target, with the home side unable to keep hold of the ball for any meaningful length of time.
Milner should have scored when picked out free on the edge of the penalty area but sent his effort wide, while Arsenal’s evening was summed up when Kieran Tierney limped off injured just before the break.
The second half would begin in a similar vein with Liverpool again the dominant force. Arteta reacted by introducing Mohamed Elneny in place of the ineffectual Dani Ceballos.
But it would be Liverpool’s first alteration which would prove inspired as Jota replaced Andrew Robertson just after the hour and broke the deadlock with his first chance.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – who had been in the news since failing to make the cut for Gareth Southgate’s England squad – delivered a pinpoint cross that was headed home by Jota as the Reds finally made their dominance pay.
Salah almost had a second as he latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Thiago, with Leno this time staying big and blocking the strike.
Jota turned home the third after Gabriel had gifted Liverpool possession with an errant pass from inside his own box.
A simple win for Klopp’s men saw them move to within two points of the top four, while Arsenal’s dwindling hopes of securing European qualification through their league position suffered yet another blow.
The striker, who turned 24 on Saturday, wrapped up a 2-0 away win as Pep Guardiola’s men made it 15 straight away wins in all competitions.
Benjamin Mendy’s second-half opener sent them on their way and City are 17 points clear at the top with seven games left after a 26th win in their last 27 games.
Fernandinho had a goal ruled out while Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick hit the crossbar.
Jamie Vardy also had a goal disallowed for offside but the third-placed Foxes missed the chance to climb above Manchester United into second after being outclassed.
They thumped City 5-2 at the Etihad in September but there was to be no repeat this time.
Leeds win derby
Phil Jagielka’s own goal gave Leeds a 2-1 Yorkshire derby win and sent Sheffield United to their 24th Premier League defeat of the season.
Jagielka turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale early in the second half after Ben Osborn had cancelled out Jack Harrison’s early opener for Leeds.
The Blades, cast adrift at the foot of the table, battled gamely throughout and were not without their chances.
But Leeds created plenty more as they passed the 40-point mark with their 13th league win of their first season back in the Premier League, which lifted them back into the top half of the table.
Tuchel predicted before kick-off that veteran centre-back Silva would not last the course on his first match since February 4 due to a thigh injury.
But the Blues’ German boss could never have predicted the manner of Silva’s premature exit, a first red card since 2013.
Brazilian forward Pereira took his two goals in first-class fashion before Callum Robinson’s double and a smart finish from Mbaye Diagne sealed relegation-battling West Brom’s first win in four league games.
Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount hit the net for Chelsea but the Blues tasted defeat for the first time since January 19.
West Brom’s comprehensive victory proved their first win at Stamford Bridge since 1978.