Liverpool crush United, Arsenal edge Spurs as race hots up

Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:33pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Two Steven Gerrard penalties and a Tomas Rosicky thunderbolt helped Liverpool and Arsenal claim precious derby wins on Sunday to crank up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Liverpool skipper Gerrard dispatched spot-kicks either side of halftime as the in-form Merseysiders humbled bitter north- west rivals Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford.

He also thumped the post with a third penalty but Liverpool won at United for only the second time in nearly 10 years, Luis Suarez scoring his 25th league goal of the season to pile on the agony for the hosts who had Nemanja Vidic sent off.

Liverpool's win put the onus on Arsenal to respond and they did so at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, although their grinding victory in bright spring sunshine was in marked contrast to Liverpool's stroll.

Rosicky's spectacular shot after 72 seconds proved enough to seal the points for Arsenal and move them alongside second-placed Liverpool on 62 points from 29 games, four behind Chelsea who have played a match more.

With Manchester City on 60 points from only 27 games a thrilling final two months are in store in the title race, with Liverpool emerging as serious threats to end their 24-year title drought.

"I think we showed today that we are genuine contenders and we're going to fight till the end for this," Gerrard, who was a goalpost away from becoming the first player to score a hat-trick of penalties in the Premier League, said.

"This is one of the most difficult places to come to in the Premier League. So to come here and dominate from start to finish was great. We're still going away slightly disappointed that we didn't score more goals."   Continued...

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (2nd L) celebrates scoring his second penalty against Manchester United with team mates during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble