Gabriel Martinelli starred as Arsenal moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 rout of struggling Everton on Wednesday.
Bukayo Saka broke Everton’s stubborn resistance late in the first half before Brazilian forward Martinelli doubled Arsenal’s lead at the Emirates Stadium.
Martin Odegaard bagged the third and Martinelli wrapped up Arsenal’s biggest victory since October on a night that could serve as another landmark moment in their surge towards the title.
It was essential for Mikel Arteta’s side to win their game in hand on second-placed Manchester City as the title race approaches its climax.
With 13 games left, the victory keeps Arsenal in pole position to win the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04.
“Once we scored the first goal, the game unlocked. We needed a magic moment and Bukayo produced that. After that we grew and deserved to win the game,” Arteta said.
“It’s a statement that we’re here and want to continue to do this.”
After wobbling during a run of three league games without a win that culminated with City knocking them off top spot with a 3-1 win at the Emirates, Arsenal have bounced back impressively.
Three successive wins since the City defeat have taken the Gunners to 60 points, which is their joint-highest total after 25 Premier League fixtures, along with that famous 2003-04 campaign and 2007-08.
“I’m delighted when I see the team play the way we want to. This league is a different story,” Arteta said.
“We had big proof of that at Goodison. I’m really happy with the maturity and quality we showed.”
Sean Dyche started his Everton reign with a shock 1-0 win against Arsenal at Goodison Park on February 4.
But Everton have lost three times and won just once since then, leaving them sitting third bottom of the table.
Everton have played a game more than all the teams around them at the bottom and remain the league’s lowest scorers this season with just 17 goals.
Unless Dyche can fix their malaise, Everton are in grave danger of playing in the second tier for the first time since 1954.
Arteta was rewarded for naming the same team that won 1-0 at Leicester on Saturday, with Leandro Trossard again selected in attack instead of Eddie Nketiah.
In a rare spell of Everton pressure, Aaron Ramsdale had to save from Neal Maupay twice in quick succession, but both times the striker’s efforts lacked the power to truly test the keeper.
Arteta had insisted everything was “fine” between Gabriel and William Saliba despite the Arsenal centre-backs’ heated confrontation on the pitch following the Leicester game.
Gabriel certainly looked unaffected by the fuss when he slid across with a perfectly timed block to stop Maupay from unloading a shot.
Everton’s rearguard action lasted until the 40th minute when Saka opened the floodgates.
Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pass found Saka in the Everton area and the 21-year-old held off Vitaliy Mykolenko before smashing a fierce strike into the top corner for his 11th goal this season.
Maupay almost mustered an immediate reply for Everton with a long-range blast that whistled just wide.
Despite that escape, Arsenal were firing on all cylinders and Martinelli increased their lead in first half stoppage-time.
Saka was the provider this time as he seized possession from the dozing Idrissa Gueye and found Martinelli, who slotted home from close-range for a goal that was confirmed after a VAR check for a tight offside claim against the Brazilian.
Odegaard put the result beyond doubt in the 71st minute when Arsenal’s captain beat Jordan Pickford with a deflected strike from Trossard’s cross.
There was still time for rampant Arsenal to net again in the 80th minute as Nketiah’s cutback was tapped in by Martinelli at the near post.
Win for Liverpool
Liverpool moved into the Premier League’s top six as goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah deepened Wolves’ relegation fears with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were again far from the force of recent seasons, but have now taken 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four league games to remain in the hunt for a top-four finish.
The Reds close to within six points of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand over Spurs still to come.
Wolves remain just three points above the relegation zone in 15th as the visitors were made to pay once more for the lack of a goal threat going forward.
A fourth meeting between the sides in less than two months bred boredom rather than contempt for the first 45 minutes.
Harvey Elliott headed wide the best chance of the opening half and then tested Jose Sa with a drive from outside the box.
One week on from Liverpool’s record-equalling home European defeat in a 5-2 humiliation at the hands of Real Madrid, there was far less to get the crowd at Anfield off their feet.
But Klopp sees signs of progress in a fourth consecutive Premier League clean sheet.
“We had a knock against Real Madrid,” said the German coach. “We played a really good first half then we started the second really bad. We looked a lot more stable today, we have to carry that on.”
Klopp should at least have more forward options to choose from for the run in with Diogo Jota back available and Luis Diaz close to a return.
A foul by Jota on Max Kilman denied Darwin Nunez the opening goal midway through the second half as the Uruguayan’s strike was ruled out after a VAR check.
But Jota did have a hand in breaking the deadlock as he teed up Van Dijk to head into an unguarded net after Sa had parried the Dutch centre-back’s first effort.
The home side’s second goal was much more like the Liverpool of old as Wolves were cut open by a rapid counter attack.
Konstantinos Tsimikas played a one-two with Cody Gakpo before the Greek galloped into the Wolves box and picked out Salah to force the ball in with his thigh for his 20th goal of the season.
A rampant Manchester United will pose a far tougher test of Liverpool’s road to recovery when the Red Devils visit Anfield on Sunday.
“It’s a big game anyway, against a team in form,” added Klopp. “We have to be ready, and we will give them a big fight.”
Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui lamented his side’s second half performance as they were unable to match the highs of a 3-0 win over Liverpool when the sides met at Molineux last month.
“I think that we did not play in the game plan we had in our head. In the first half much better, in the second we did not keep the ball. It was a shame, but they deserved to win,” said Lopetegui.
“Today is not easy for me to keep positive thinking, maybe in a few days.”