Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: Rampant Reds tear leaders apart (video)

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Liverpool put on a devastating first half display to blow away league leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday, with the home side running out 5-1 winners over the Gunners.

The scoring started early as Martin Skrtel scored after just 55 seconds, then grabbed another after nine minutes. Soon after Raheem Sterling made it 3-0, then in the 19th minute Daniel Sturridge made it 4-0 in an incredible opening 20 minutes for Liverpool.

Arsenal were shell-shocked following Liverpool’s high-pressure approach and after the break Sterling made it 5-0 as the rout continued. To their credit Arsenal kept working hard and bagged a consolation through Mikel Arteta’s penalty with 20 minutes to go.

With the win Liverpool stay in fourth but are now just five points behind leaders Arsenal, while the Gunners will expect to be replaced at the top by Manchester City or Chelsea later in the weekend.

(MORE: Three things we learned in Liverpool’s battering of Arsenal)

After just 55 seconds Liverpool took the lead, as Suarez had been fouled out wide by Per Mertesacker and Steven Gerrard swung in a magnificent free kick which Skrtel guided past Wojciech Szczesny to send Anfield wild and put Liverpool 1-0 up.

Arsenal then fell further behind in the 9th minute as Skrtel once again got on the end of a set-piece from Gerrard, as the Slovakian defender headed home his second goal of the game to put Liverpool in dreamland and 2-0 up.

Liverpool were rampant as both Suarez and Daniel Sturridge came close to scoring a third, as Suarez smashed the upright with a marvelous volley from 25-yards out that really deserved to go in. The Gunners didn’t know what had hit them, as only Mertesacker’s glancing header came close to reducing Liverpool’s lead.

And then Liverpool were 3-0 up as Suarez broke down the right and fed Sterling to slot home in the 15th minute. Less than five minutes later the home side were ahead 4-0 as Philippe Coutinho played a marvelous ball to Sturridge who slotted home to score for his seventh-straight game.

After just 20 minutes of the first half gone, Liverpool were 4-0 up. I repeat, 4-0 up against PL leaders Arsenal.

For the rest of the first half it was a case of damage limitation for Arsenal, as they held back Liverpool who just kept surging forward with their incredible high-pressure approach.

(Latest Premier League Standings)

After the break it was more of the same, as Sterling raced clear after good play down Liverpool’s left and the young English winger bagged his second and Liverpool’s fifth in the 51st minute.

Arsenal made a triple substitution on the hour mark as Podolski, Rosicky and Gibbs all came on as Wenger tried to spark life into his side that had been completely obliterated in the opening half of the game. The Gunners had a shot on goal soon after as Wilshere forced Mignolet into a diving save, but then moments later Suarez almost scored a stunning free kick as his 35-yard effort was clawed out of the top corner by Szczesny.

In the 68th minute Arsenal finally pulled a goal back as Arteta scored from the penalty spot after Gerrard took down Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box. Soon after that Mignolet made a good stop from Arteta’s free kick as Arsenal finished the game strongly.

But Liverpool had further chances to extend their lead, but settled for a 5-1 mauling as their magnificent home form continues.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Cissokho, Toure, Skrtel, Gerrard (Ibe, 76), Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez (Aspas, 86), Sturridge (Allen, 66)

Goals: Skrtel (1 & 9), Sterling (15 & 51), Sturridge (19)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal (Gibbs, 60), Wilshere, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Ozil (Rosicky, 60), Giroud (Podolski, 60)

Goal: Arteta (68)

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

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On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”