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BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
reports from Anfield
 real 14k

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"After the second goal we had the confidence to finish the game"
 real 14k

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger
"Liverpool adapted better to the pitch conditions"
 real 14k

Goalscorer Michael Owen
"If we'd have lost today Man United might have gone out of the window"
 real 14k

Saturday, 23 December, 2000, 13:29 GMT
Liverpool hammer Arsenal
Martin Keown
Martin Keown beats Michael Owen to the ball
Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

Liverpool completed the perfect week for boss Gerard Houllier - building on victory over Premiership pace-setters Manchester United by thrashing second-placed Arsenal at Anfield.

Houllier's rejuvenated Liverpool now stand only two points behind Arsenal after a performance at Anfield which hinted they may still be title dark horses.

Arsenal arrived at Anfield with a wretched record of no wins in eight years, and it did not get any better for Arsene Wenger's side.

England midfield man Steven Gerrard, the game's outstanding performer, gave Liverpool an early lead, setting the tone for a comprehensive victory.

I am not a dreamer. I think we are five points short and cannot see Manchester United dropping ten
  Gerard Houllier on Liverpool's title chances
And despite long spells of Arsenal possession, Liverpool pushed home their advantage with second half goals from Michael Owen and Nick Barmby.

To complete Liverpool's joy, substitute Robbier Fowler got in on the act by adding a fourth in injury time.

Liverpool now travel to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day with their season revived after a potentially damaging home defeat against Ipswich Town.

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard celebrates his goal
Houllier has guided his side in the Worthington Cup semi-final, the last 16 of the Uefa Cup, and also into firm contention for a Champions' League place.

As for Arsenal, they are still trying to cure the travel sickness and a lack of goals that is threatening their title aspirations.

Arsenal, who had not scored in their last three Premiership visits to Anfield, sufferered the worst possible start.

Wenger's side, who were without captain Tony Adams and goalkeeper David Seaman, had opened brightly but were punished by a stunning strike by Gerrard in the 11th minute.

We did not show the mental capacity to react after we went two goals behind, and that is very disappointing
  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Vieria failed to clear a long throw under pressure from Emile Heskey, and Gerrard rifled a poweful 20-yard finishing in Alex Manninger's bottom corner.

Arsenal, used to falling behind in recent away matches at Leeds United and Spurs, responded with real resilience.

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp both tested Sander Westerveld - but was Liverpool who should have doubled their lead on the half hour.

Danny Murphy released Markus Babbel, and the German's cross found Owen, but he shot wide.

The game burst into life as half time approached, with fierce physical exchanges all over the sand-covered Anfield turf.

Gerard Houllier
Houllier - more good news
Jamie Carragher was booked for a wild challenge on Bergkamp after 41 minutes, and Babbel followed him shortly afterwards.

Babbel, who recently claimed the Premier League was "brutal", was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card from referee Paul Durkin for an appalling lunge at Henry.

Arsenal replaced Oleg Luzhny with Robert Pires at half time, but after a brief spell in the ascendancy after the break Liverpool produced the counter punches to floor the Gunners.

Liverpool boss Houllier replaced Murphy with Vladimir Smicer on the hour, and within a minute they had doubled their lead.

Arsene Wenger
Misery for Wenger
Heskey's power held the key, perfoming the not inconsiderable feat of knocking Martin Keown off the ball, and when Manninger could only palm out his shot, Owen finally got a stroke of luck in front of goal to stab home the rebound.

Liverpool pushed the game beyond Arsenal's reach with 20 minutes to go, courtesy of a trademark Barmby goal.

Substitute Smicer was the creator, finding Barmby as he made an intelligent run into space, and he chipped a delicate finish over the advancing Manninger.

Youngster Gerrard had been the inspiration behind Liverpool's performance, and the only blot on their day came when he limped off after 75 minutes, to be replaced by Gary McAllister.

Fowler, on for Owen, continued his incredible record against Arsenal by racing clear to score a fourth in injury time.

But it was Liverpool's day, as they gave a performance which gave the lie to Houllier's assertion that they are still trailing well behind Manchester United and Arsenal in the title race.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Hyypia, Henchoz, Carragher, Barmby, Biscan, Gerrard, Murphy, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Smicer, Fowler, Arphexad, McAllister, Vignal.

Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Luzhny, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Grimandi, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry. Subs: Stepanovs, Pires, Wiltord, Lukic, Kanu.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset)

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23 Dec 00 |  Eng Prem
FT: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal
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