As it happened: Liverpool thrash Arsenal to go nine points clear
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As it happened: Liverpool thrash Arsenal to go nine points clear

Follow live text commentary of Liverpool vs Arsenal in the Premier League. Kick off is set for 17.30 GMT.

mattddawson
Matt Dawson
That's all we've got time for this evening. Thank you very much for joining us and stay tuned for all of the reaction following this game. 
FULL TIME
Liverpool were absolutely outstanding. They are well and truly in the driving seat for the Premier League title. Arsenal, on the other hand, continue to stutter and the January transfer window can't come quick enough for them. Their defensive was terrible and they desperately need reinforcements in that area of the pitch. 
FULL TIME: Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
A fantastic day at the office for Liverpool. They go nine points clear at the top. 
89' Very nearly a sixth for Liverpool as Henderson tries to bend one into the bottom corner but puts it wide. 
85' Arsenal should have a penalty as Clyne kicks Lacazette on the foot and the Frenchman goes to ground but nothing is given. 
Liverpool substitution
83' Nathaniel Clyne comes on for Andy Robertson. 
Arsenal substitution
81' A final change for Arsenal as Matteo Guendouzi replaces Sead Kolasinac. 
80' Lacazette tries to make room for a shot as he shimmies on the edge of the area but when he does eventually shoot it's deflected wide for a corner. 
Liverpool substitution
77' Adam Lallana is on for Wijnaldum. 
Arsenal substitution
71' Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is off and here comes Alexandre Lacazette. 
GOAL LIVERPOOL - FIRMINO (5-1)
65' Another Liverpool penalty and another Liverpool goal. Kolasinac pushes Lovren to the ground from a ball into the box and as a result, Firmino earns his hattrick from the penalty spot. 
63' Outstanding from Salah who deliciously flicks the ball past Koscielny into the path of Fabinho. He then gets a shot away but Leno is there to make the save. 
Liverpool substitution
62' Sadio Mane is off and on comes Jordan Henderson. 
58' Arsenal having a better spell in possession now.
54' Better from Arsenal as Xhaka plays a lovely ball in behind for Ramsey whose shot takes a deflection and is then volleyed over from a matter of yards out by Aubameyang. The latter was offside and it would not have counted anyway. 
49' Liverpool have started the second half as they ended the first. Shaqiri plays a lovely ball in behind for Salah but he can't quite get the ball under control and Leno comes out to gather. 
47' Good interlinking play from Liverpool which allows Mane to get into the penalty area but Sokratis comes across and makes a vital interception. 
46' A change at the break for Arsenal as Laurent Koscielny comes on for Mustafi. We are underway in the second half too. 
HALF TIME
The only positive for the Gunners in the first 45 was the display of Maitland-Niles who has been impressive down the right. Aside from that, it's been a very poor day at the office for Unai Emery's men. 
HALF TIME
Arsenal's defence has been chaotic to say the least in that first half. But the way Liverpool responded to going behind was fantastic. They've absolutely swatted Arsenal aside going forward and their front three have been brilliant. 
HALF TIME: Liverpool 4-1 Arsenal
Liverpool excellent. Arsenal shocking. The league leaders have a three-goal advantage at the break. 
GOAL LIVERPOOL - SALAH (4-1)
47' Penalty to Liverpool. Goal to Liverpool. Sokratis stupidly fouls Salah and then the Egyptian fires home despite Leno's touch on the ball. 
42' Really smart turn from Maitland-Niles who receives the ball from Aubameyang's flick and goes for goal but fires over the bar. 
40' Aaron Ramsey just down and receiving treatment after a 50/50 challenge with Wijnaldum. The Welshman kicked the bottom of the Liverpool man's studs which looks a painful one. 
34' Granit Xhaka is probably very lucky to stay on the pitch here. The Swiss midfielder receives a booking for fouling a Liverpool player and then kicks the ball away which should be another yellow card offence. However, referee Michael Oliver chooses to have a word with him and the Arsenal skipper, Ramsey. 
GOAL LIVERPOOL - MANE (3-1)
32' This is going very badly for Arsenal. Robertson loops a long ball forward after a free-kick is cleared but the Arsenal defence don't keep tabs on Salah around the back. The Egyptian is allowed to ghost in behind as a result and then lays the ball on a plate for Mane to score. 
27' Andy Robertson goes into the book for a foul on Maitland-Niles down the right-hand side. 
23' Almost a third for Liverpool as Mane bursts into the area and then hits a shot straight at Leno. 
GOAL LIVERPOOL - FIRMINO (2-1)
16' What a start to this game! I can't work out whether this is brilliant from Firmino or catastrophic defending from Mustafi and Sokratis. Both try to slide in on Firmino but he feints his way past the pair of them and then fires beyond Leno. It's a fantastic response from the league leaders. 
GOAL LIVERPOOL - FIRMINO (1-1)
14' Remember when Arsenal conceded a sloppy goal straight after going ahead at Old Trafford? Yep, it's just happened again. Salah wriggles his way through the Arsenal defence and Xhaka makes a tremendous tackle. The ball falls to Lichtsteiner who tries to clear but it comes off Mustafi and falls to Firmino who has a tap in. 
GOAL ARSENAL - MAITLAND-NILES (0-1)
10' Well I bet you didn't have Ainsley Maitland-Niles as first scorer in this one? The youngster has his first Arsenal goal as he connects with Iwobi's ball at the back post and taps home for the easiest goal he'll ever score. Anfield is silenced. 
10' Really sloppy play from Liverpool as they gift the ball to Iwobi in the middle of the pitch. He streams forward and gets beyond Lovren before seeing a shot saved by Allison. 
5' Nice play from Arsenal as Lichtsteiner drifts inside from right back and plays a clever ball in behind for Ramsey. However, he can't wrap his foot around it for the cross and it goes out of play. Liverpool then go up the other end and Firmino's effort is almost diverted goalbound by Salah but finds the side netting. 
2' Robertson swings in a cross from the left which goes right across the Arsenal goal but no one in red can get on the end of it. Warning signs for the Gunners already. 
KICK OFF
1' Underway at Anfield. 
Arsenal going with four at the back which means Kolasinac is at left back. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is playing over on the right of midfield.
The players are out on the pitch, we're moments away from kick-off at Anfield. Liverpool in red, Arsenal sporting a minty green number. 
Arsenal are hoping to put an end to Liverpool's unbeaten run this evening. The Reds have been flying high and their closest title rivals for the time being in Spurs lost earlier today. They suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Wolves. A win for Liverpool, therefore, would see them go nine points clear at the top. 
For Arsenal, Shkodran Mustafi is back following injury whilst it appears Maitland-Niles starts at left back. It looks as though Sead Kolasinac might start on the left of midfield. Aaron Ramsey gets a rare start and is captain. Lacazette has to settle for a place on the bench. 
No real surprises in the Liverpool line-up. It's Fabinho and Wijnaldum who get the nod in midfield ahead of Henderson and Keita, however. The brilliant front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino all start. 
Arsenal starting XI
Leno, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Aubameyang. 

Subs: Cech, Koscielny, Elneny, Willock, Guendouzi, Saka, Lacazette. 

Liverpool starting XI
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Salah, Mane, Firmino. 

Subs: Mignolet, Clyne, Henderson, Keita, Lallana, Sturridge, Origi. 

Countdown to kick off
That's all your pre-match build up for now but join us from around an hour before kick-off for confirmed starting XIs. 
Emery hoping to use Liverpool as an example
In his pre-match press conference, the Arsenal manager commented on his previous experiences of managing against Liverpool and how his team can use Liverpool's progress as a springboard for their own ambitions. "We played against Liverpool three [seasons] ago with Sevilla in the final of the Europa League and I look at this progress and they are a very good example.

"This progress is also one example for us, now, in our moment. But we need to be very, very demanding of ourselves to do this step quickly in our way," ​​​​​​​Emery commented. 

More to come from Liverpool
Ahead of the match, Liverpool manager Klopp insisted that his side still hasn't yet reached their full potential. "There is a lot to come from the boys, but so far the steps are really okay," he said. 

Klopp also spoke about how his side have developed into a more sturdy outfit that in previous campaigns: "It was said we lost a bit of our spectacular [style] when people were asking, ‘It’s good you don’t concede, but where is the free-flowing football?

“You always want something else or a bit more. We had to develop. It’s not a new style," the German added.

Arsenal team news
Arsenal have had to play most of their games in December with a makeshift backline but are now starting to recover bodies which is a huge boost to their chances on Saturday evening. Shkodran Mustafi has been back in training and could make the game whilst Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny are both available. However, Hector Bellerin remains out which is a concern after Stephan Lichtsteiner's mistake for Brighton's goal on Boxing Day. Nacho Monreal's fitness is still a concern. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also out which means with Ozil also rumoured to be missing that Arsenal may be short of creativity. 
Liverpool team news
James Milner has been ruled out of the match whilst Dominic Solanke, who has been linked with a loan move away in January will also be an absentee. Alberto Moreno has recovered from a back problem but is unlikely to feature due to the in form Andy Robertson at left back. Klopp confirmed in the week that former Gunner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to return to training in February following a lengthy injury lay-off that has seen him out since April. Liverpool play Manchester City next but it's unlikely they'll rest too many bodies. 
Ozil continues to be an issue
The enigmatic German has had a puzzling December period. He came on as a substitute against Southampton but failed to make an impact and was then left out of the Arsenal 18 man squad for their north London derby with Spurs in the Carabao Cup. Emery then defended the player and made him captain for the Gunners 3-1 win over Burnley. But the saga rolled on when he was taken off at half time on Boxing Day against Brighton and it's now being reported that Ozil is set to miss the match with Liverpool due to a knee injury. Answers on a postcard as to what the actual issue with the German is, please. 
Van Dijk a revelation
It's now been just over a year since Liverpool signed Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk. The Merseysiders were all at sea defensively before his arrival at Anfield. But flashforward to the turn of 2019 and they look a completely different outfit at the back. In 19 league matches this season, Liverpool have conceded just seven goals - and a large part of that is down to van Dijk. Arsenal have two of the most potent forwards in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette, though who will have to be in top form if Arsenal are to get a result. 
Last time they met
Arsenal and Liverpool last faced each other in November in what was a fantastic game of football. The Gunners played with great energy and intensity throughout much of the first half as they drew 1-1 at the Emirates. James Milner opened the scoring for Liverpool, but Alexandre Lacazette was on hand to grab the equaliser. If this match is anything like that one then we'll be in for a treat.
Arsenal in a rut
For the Gunners, they've witnessed misfortune in recent weeks and after that incredible 22 game unbeaten run now appear to be struggling. They're two points off Chelsea who complete the top four but Arsenal have suffered defeat to Southampton and drawn with Brighton over the Christmas period. It's been Unai Emery's first real test since he came to the club and facing Liverpool now hasn't particularly come at the right time for the north Londoners. 
Is the title heading to Merseyside?
The festive period has helped shaped the direction of those at the top of the table. Manchester City's two straight defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester has seen Liverpool taken command of the title race. The Reds are now seven points clear of City who have dropped to third place and are six points ahead of Spurs who have taken themselves up to second after scoring 11 goals in their previous two matches. Can Jurgen Klopp's men secure a first Premier League title? Time will tell. 
Welcome
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UKs live text commentary of Liverpool vs Arsenal in the Premier League. I'm Matt Dawson and I'll be bringing you all of the build-up and match preview before the action gets underway from 17.30 GMT. 
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