Liverpool: Everton's Champions League hopes are in their own hands after a 3-0 win over top-four rivals Arsenal at Goodison Park yesterday.
Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky (left), Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta (right) show their dejection after conceding a goal. Pic/Imagelibrary/EPA
First-half strikes from Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku, along with an own goal from Mikel Arteta, put the hosts on course for a first appearance in Europe's premier club competition since 2005-06, when they failed to make it past the qualifying rounds.
After winning six top-flight matches in a row, Everton are now a solitary point behind fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in hand and have a great chance to secure European football in their first season under Roberto Martinez.
Naismith gave Everton a great start when he opened the scoring after 14 minutes — tucking the ball home after Wojciech Szczesny had done well to deny Lukaku.
Lukaku, a threat to Arsenal's backline for much of the half, doubled the lead when he cut in from the right before evading the attentions of Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen.
The Belgian then fired past Szczesny, who was again left helpless thanks to more feeble Arsenal defending, before Everton old-boy Arteta put through his own net in the second half under pressure from Everton's Kevin Mirallas.
Arsene Wenger's men must reflect on another damaging defeat, which extends their winless run in the top flight to four matches, and face an uphill task to secure a 17th successive season in the Champions League.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored two penalties as Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table following a 2-1 win over West Ham. Luis Suarez and Jon Flanagan won penalties either side of a controversial Guy Demel equaliser yesterday.