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Arsenal's big six struggles continue as Gunners lose ground on top four

20:55 GMT 29/12/2018
Unai Emery Arsenal 2018-19
It is the second time in five years that Arsenal have let in five at Anfield and the team have gone 20 games without an away win at a top-six rival

Arsenal extended their woeful record in away fixtures against the Premier League’s top-six as they lost 5-1 to Liverpool on Saturday – the second time in five seasons they’ve let in five goals at Anfield.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles had briefly given Unai Emery’s Gunners the lead before Liverpool let rip on their bewildered opponents, scoring four goals in a whirlwind first half that was reminiscent of the blitzkrieg defeat suffered by Arsene Wenger’s team in February 2014.

Roberto Firmino scored two in three minutes to turn the game in the hosts’ favour, before Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah confounded the Gunners’ misery before half-time. Firmino completed his hat-trick in the second half when he coverted the Reds' second penalty of the night.

And Arsenal have now gone 20 Premier League games away from home against their top-six rivals since registering a victory, losing 13 of them. They have also lost on 10 of their last 12 visits against those sides.

Not since January 2015 have the Gunners managed to win at the home of one of their rivals, that a 2-0 win at Manchester City secured with goals from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud.

And Saturday’s loss was the fourth time in the Premier League that the team have conceded four first-half goals, having done so at Manchester United in 2001, at Chelsea in 2014 and during their previous Anfield thrashing.

It represents a continuation of a worrying trend – some of Arsenal’s most catastrophic league defeats have happened in the last five years.

The club were top of the table when Brendan Rodgers’ Reds scored five in a masterclass orchestrated Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez in 2014, and followed it up just weeks later by letting in six against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in Wenger’s 1000th game as manager.

They also lost 6-3 to Manchester City that same season, in a year in which they spent more days than any other side leading at the top of the table before losing out by seven points and finishing fourth.

And the cycle of thrashing has even deeper roots. A Wayne Rooney-inspired Manchester United put eight past the beleaguered Gunners in August 2011, on the same ground where Dwight Yorke scored a 19-minute hat-trick in February 2001, as Arsenal lost 6-1 at Old Trafford.

Emery’s side sit two points outside the top-four with fourth-place Chelsea holding a game in hand over their Champions League rivals.