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Three things we learned in Liverpool’s battering of Arsenal

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Following their massive 5-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday, Liverpool propelled themselves back into the Premier League title race after a totally dominant display over the PL leaders.

After seeing that devastating display of swashbuckling offensive prowess, we thought it was time to highlight three things we learned from Liverpool’s big win over Arsenal.

So, here they are…

Steven Gerrard has reinvented himself

Playing from the deep role Gerrard once again proved that he has plenty left in the tank to drive Liverpool on in the second half of the season. He started everything off from the holding position, as he broke down every move Arsenal that got going in the first 45 minutes and bullied Jack Wilshere in the engine room. Liverpool’s first two goals were also set up by delicious deliveries from the England national team captain, as his set-piece skills are getting even better. Gerrard was often operating as Liverpool’s last man, as he would drop deep to get the ball on the edge of his box and spray his trademark 45-yard plus passes out wide to turn Arsenal and put them on the back foot. One minor slip saw Gerrard give away the penalty kick, but his willingness to keep diving into tackles shows how committed he is, just like Gerrard’s always been. If ‘Stevie G’ can keep this form up, Liverpool have a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Arsenal’s backline still struggles to handle pace

As Daniel Sturridge slotted home Liverpool’s fourth goal in just the 19th minute of the game on Saturday, my mind cast back to the last time Arsenal got a pummeling in the PL. That came in the 6-3 defeat away at Man City in December, as the Gunners lack of pace was dreadfully exposed. Liverpool started on the front foot and with Suarez, Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho sprinting at the cumbersome duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, the league leaders had no chance. Every time Liverpool surged forward, Mertesacker and Koscielny were spinning around in circles trying to find their marks and time and time again Liverpool were just too quick. Just like they did against City, Arsenal’s defense proved they can’t handle high-pressure as Arsenal were never allowed to settle. Just like they did against Everton in the Merseyside derby, Liverpool front four set the tone early on and the Gunners never recovered.

Liverpool aren’t out of this title race

Okay, even Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers had quelled chat of the Reds lifting the Premier League title this season, but why cant they do it? With Suarez and Sturridge bamboozling the best defenses in the PL on a weekly basis, Gerrard quarterbacking things from midfield and a plethora of exciting young talents nipping around midfield, I think the Reds have an outside chance. Following the win against Arsenal they were momentarily just five points off top spot, but with with Chelsea or Man City winning this weekend there are likely to be six points off the summit. That deficit isn’t insurmountable, especially as both Chelsea and City have to visit Anfield in April when the season comes to its climax. If Liverpool stay in touching distance between now and April, they have a great chance to be in the mix when May 11 rolls around. They’re remarkable home form, just one defeat all season, could see them shock everyone.

MORE: PL Roundup – Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom
MORE: Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal – Rampant Reds tear leaders apart
MORE: Latest Premier League Standings

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk