Liverpool's Martin Skrtel, centre, celebrates after scoring against Arsenal during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Saturday Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

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)

Fabregas denies rift with Conte, says he’s not leaving Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15:  Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea looks on from the sidelines during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on August 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Cesc Fabregas has not started a single Premier League game for Chelsea so far this season under new manager Antonio Conte.

[ MORE: Boufal signs for Saints ]

The Spanish midfielder, 29, is seen by many as far too good to be sitting on the bench somewhere and coupled with reports that Fabregas had a falling out with Conte, many thought he could move on elsewhere in the final days of the window.

Apparently that is far from the truth.

After seeing widespread media speculation regarding a “bust up” with Conte, the former Arsenal and Barcelona playmaker has moved to quell the notion of him leaving Stamford Bridge.

Fabregas led the PL in assists in 2014-15, getting off to a flying start in Chelsea’s title-winning season. However his form dipped as that season closed out and last season he was a shadow of his former self as Jose Mourinho was fired and Chelsea ended up finishing in 10th place in the Premier League table.

With N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic the first-choice central midfield pairing for Conte, he has seen great balance in his side as they’ve won all three of their opening PL games.

Fabregas did provide a sumptuous assist on Diego Costa‘s late game-winner at Watford last weekend with a beautifully weighted 50-yard through ball but his lack of power and speed seem to mean he’s on the outside looking in when it comes to Conte’s starting lineup.

Below is the message which Fabregas posted on Instagram.


Southampton sign rising star Sofiane Boufal for club-record fee

Sofiane Boufal signs for Southampton FC, pictured at The Staplewood Campus, Southampton, 29th August 2016, pictured with Executive Director of Football Les Reed
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Southampton have made a huge statement by signing Sofiane Boufal from Ligue 1 side Lille.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights 

After the deal was all but secured last week Saints announced the acquisition on Monday and it is believed Boufal initially cost over $21 million, a club-record transfer fee.

The Moroccan international attacking midfielder, 22, has signed a five-year deal with the club as Claude Puel has added an exciting, dynamic player to his ranks.

In the past Boufal had been linked with many of Europe’s top clubs but speaking to Southampton’s website after signing, Boufal revealed why he chose to move to St Mary’s.

“I’m very, very happy to sign for Southampton and I am really excited to play in St Mary’s Stadium in front of the fans,” Boufal said. “Southampton showed big interest in signing me, and I can see that this club is the best place for me to continue my progression as a footballer. I hope I can achieve many great things with Southampton. It is a very good club, with excellent facilities, and I feel it is the perfect environment to continue my development.”

This is a huge signing for Saints and one that should breath new life into their attacking unit, although Boufal may not be ready until a few weeks from now as he continues his recovery from a knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

Puel’s men have scored just two goals in their opening three games of the season and although they’ve looked confident in possession, they’ve run out of ideas in the final third. Boufal’s trickery, pace and direct running will help out with that.

After selling Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle this summer, Saints lost their top two goalscorers from last season. With Shane Long energetic but hardly prolific and both Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin injury prone in recent years, Puel’s options up top needed boosting. Boufal can operate centrally or on either flank and alongside Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond he will provide plenty of competition in the attacking areas.

At Lille he showed plenty of productivity last season with 12 goals in all competitions after making the step up from second-tier Angers in January 2015. Many in France have compared him to Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

It may have taken Saints a while to get this deal over the line but just like in previous windows they’ve sealed a gem close to the transfer deadline day. In the past two seasons they’ve picked up Mane and Virgil Van Dijk in the latter stages of the summer window and both of those buys turned out to be great players, and business, for the south coast club.

Boufal is expected to make a major impact in the PL and Europa League for Saints. Turns out that they aren’t just a selling club after all…

Antonio in, Barkley out as Allardyce names 1st England squad

NICE, FRANCE - JUNE 27: Wayne Rooney of England in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between England and Iceland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 27, 2016 in Nice, France.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) — Sam Allardyce dropped midfielder Ross Barkley on Sunday and called up uncapped winger Michail Antonio for his first England squad since taking charge after the team’s disappointing European Championship campaign.

There were five changes from the 23-man squad that went to France for Euro 2016, with Luke Shaw, Phil Jagielka, Danny Drinkwater and Theo Walcott all returning for the Sept. 4 game against Slovakia in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Barkley was overlooked despite scoring twice in his first four matches for Everton this season. Antonio has scored twice in West Ham’s first three Premier League games of the season.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford drops down to the under-21s and Wayne Rooney was named among the midfielders. Joe Hart remains, despite losing his place as first-choice goalkeeper at Manchester City.

No captain has been named.

Antonio only found out he had been called up after coming off the field at the Etihad Stadium earlier on Sunday, having scored in West Ham’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester City in the Premier League.

“I’m overwhelmed. I got slightly emotional when I found out,” Antonio told West Ham TV, adding that he had rejected Jamaica earlier this year in a bid to keep his England ambitions alive.

“It’s just one of those things that I’ve always dreamt of, playing for England, as a kid, so now for it to happen after I’ve worked my way from non-league to where I am now, I am just so happy.”

England squad

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Fowards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City 2-1 New York City FC

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 15:  Kaka #10 of Orlando City SC gives directions to his teammates during an International friendly soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on July 15, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Orlando won the match 3-1. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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The match in 100 words or less: The game started amid pouring rain, seemingly a foreshadow for the home side. Yet another lead at halftime, yet another lead squandered. Then, Kaka decided he didn’t want to go home disappointed again. The Brazilian bagged a penalty – his second goal of the match – to see Orlando City back on top of Eastern Conference powers NYCFC, and the back line held under pressure through the final 20 minutes to keep Orlando’s playoff hopes very much alive.

Three Four moments that mattered:

 

32′ – Kaka did it all himself, and Orlando snatched a 1-0 lead. Bursting down the right flank, Kaka cut inside, weaved around a poor attempt by Jefferson Mena to wall him off, and took two shots on goal. The first was saved by Saunders, but the second snuck in past the goalkeeper spread-eagle on the ground.

55′ – Orlando had a glorious opportunity to putting NYCFC out of reach four minutes later as Cyle Larin and Kevin Molino isolated Mena two-on-one, but Molino’s touch was poor and the ball skittered away from Larin. With the missed chance, Orlando squandered yet another lead a minute later. A shot by Frank Lampard just outside the six-yard box forced a save by Bendik, and the rebound fell to Stiven Mendoza who crashed the equalizer into the back of the net.

62′ – The home side having coughed up yet another lead, Orlando City restored their advantage. Julio Baptista snatched the ball off Jason Hernandez on the left flank deep in NYCFC territory, and he fed Kaka who was felled by Maxine Chanot, forcing the referee to point to the spot. The Brazilian deposited the ensuing penalty past a wrong-footed Saunders, and Orlando went back on top.

70′ – Desperate to stay in the match, NYCFC’s defense caved, then saved the match. Molino beat the offside trap and ended up one-on-one with Saunders, but when he rounded the keeper, it allowed time for Ronald Matarrita to race back and make a desperate clearance at the very last moment. He paid the price, slamming into the post as he slid to clear the ball, but he would return with the game still 2-1.

Man of the Match: Kaka

Goalscorers: Kaka (32′, 63′), Mendoza (55′)