Liverpool’s woes continued as they crashed to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal at Anfield courtesy of Andriy Arshavin’s superb strike.
Arshavin chested down a flick-on before swivelling and firing a fierce shot crashed in off the post as Arsenal closed the gap on the Premier League’s leading pair, and condemned Liverpool to their second successive defeat at Anfield in a week and their sixth in the league.
Going into the match the hosts welcomed back mercurial striker Fernando Torres to the first team with coach Rafa Benitez opting to leave midfielder Alberto Aquilani on the bench.
The Gunners started with last season’s hero Andriy Arshavin playing as the lone man upfront with Samir Nasri and winger Theo Walcott in support.
It was Torres who had the games first key chance early on when after being played in by captain Steven Gerrard, the Spaniard opted to shoot first time and Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia dived low to save to his right.
Minutes later Gerrard was upended when Arsenal defender William Gallas appeared to catch the midfielder in the box, but referee Howard Webb signalled for a goalkick when replays suggested a penalty.
Liverpool were desperate to end a poor run of form having recorded just 2 wins in 8 matches and continued to go at the visitors as the first half unravelled.
Minus a target man, the Gunners looked poor upfront. They found possession hard to hold onto and did not muster their first real shot until the thirty-fifth minute when Nasri shot wide from 20 yards.
In a match they simply had to win, Liverpool grabbed the all-important breakthrough five minutes before the break.
Fabio Aurelio swung in a deep free-kick which Almunia punched the ball tamely and Reds striker Dirk Kuyt turned home the loose ball for 1-0.
Arsenal started the second half brightly, with the visitors creating two chances minutes into the second half before grabbing a somewhat surprise equaliser when Nasri’s cross was deflected off Jamie Carragher and was in-advertedly turned in by full-back Glen Johnson for 1-1.
The Anfield faithful barely had time to adjust when Arsenal amazingly went ahead in the 58th minute.
Fabregas’ ball to the back post was picked up by Arshavin who took two touches to control, spun on Glen Johnson, and rifled past Reina at the near post for 2-1.
Liverpool responded by throwing on Alberto Aquilani and then David Ngog for Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun respectively but to no avail as the Gunners held on comfortably.
Arsenal’s first win over a big four side since November 2008 lifts them back into third place on 31 points, just three behind Manchester United and 6 behind leaders Chelsea. Liverpool stay seventh on 24 points having not won at home since September.