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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2006, 17:57 GMT
Arsenal 3-0 Liverpool
By Phil McNulty

Kolo Toure (second from left) celebrates his goal with his Arsenal team-mates
Kolo Toure (second from left) scored his first goal of the season
Arsenal brushed aside Liverpool in clinical fashion to keep in touch with the Premiership pace-setters.

Mathieu Flamini put Arsenal ahead from close range five minutes before the end of an evenly contested first half.

But Arsenal moved into top gear after the interval, Kolo Toure racing on to Robin van Persie's clever pass to slide home a cool finish after 56 minutes.

William Gallas was then left completely unmarked to head in Van Persie's corner to seal the win with 10 minutes left.

Liverpool's title hopes were slim before kick-off but they are now surely non-existent as they remain without an away win in the Premiership this season.

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had a throat infection, which allowed Manuel Almunia to make a rare start.

606: DEBATE
SB

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez persisted with Steven Gerrard in a right-wing role, despite the absence of injured Momo Sissoko, so Bolo Zenden played in central midfield alongside Xabi Alonso.

It was to prove a questionable decision, with Gerrard very much a peripheral figure as Arsenal ran out comfortable winners.

Arsenal had the ball in the net inside 90 seconds but Van Persie handled the ball to deflect it past Pepe Reina and picked up a yellow card.

But Liverpool settled quickly and Dirk Kuyt was just off target with an ambitious lob.

Liverpool thought they had taken the lead after 13 minutes when Peter Crouch turned home Alonso's cross, but he had strayed offside.

The visitors had enjoyed more than their fair share of possession and territory in the first half but just as frustration was growing inside the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal took the lead with a trademark goal after 41 minutes.

Alexander Hleb played in Cesc Fabregas and his pass was met by the onrushing Flamini, who got the vital final touch ahead of Jamie Carragher.

Liverpool needed to make a statement of intent after the break but it was Arsenal who doubled their lead.

There was a hint of good fortune about the build-up, with Van Persie first failing with an attempted flick but then recovering to play in Toure at the second attempt to finish in style.

Liverpool needed to make a change and it came on the hour when Jermaine Pennant replaced the ineffective Mark Gonzalez.

Gerrard moved into the middle to at least provide a hint of menace with a deflected shot from 30 yards that dipped just over the bar.

But Arsenal ended any debate about the destination of the points when Gallas headed home Van Persie's corner.

It prompted a heated exchange between Gerrard and team-mate John Arne Riise over the lack of marking, summing up a desperately disappointing display by Liverpool.


Arsenal: Almunia, Eboue, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Silva, Fabregas, Flamini, Van Persie (Adebayor 85), Henry.
Subs Not Used: Poom, Senderos, Hoyte, Walcott.

Booked: Van Persie, Flamini.

Goals: Flamini 41, Toure 56, Gallas 80.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia (Agger 82), Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Zenden, Gonzalez (Pennant 61), Crouch (Bellamy 71), Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Warnock.

Booked: Carragher, Alonso, Pennant.

Att: 60,110

Ref: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).



SEE ALSO
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