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Triumphant Liverpool go 10 points clear

by Stuart Jones of "The Times"

Those who wish may continue to discuss the destiny of this season's League title. It may help to fill the odd empty hour and the followers of Manchester United and Nottingham Forest particularly may be eager to keep the subject open. Onlookers who have seen the form of the holders, Liverpool, recently will know better than to argue against what seems inevitable.

Liverpool yesterday afternoon extended their lead at the top to 10 points, their triumphant home run to 11 matches, and the belief that they are so outstanding that they could almost form a superleague on their own. The score is misleading, Arsenal, who claimed a consolation goal near the end, were outclassed in every department.

Visiting Anfield, never a warming prospect, has now become fearsome. To contain Rush is to halt a waterfall. To restrict Dalglish is to catch a blob of mercury. To quieten the rest, such as the irresistible Lee and the serene Souness, is to silence a band that is marching in time, in tune and in harmony.

Arsenal never came close to achieving any of those Herculean tasks. Rush added the twenty-first goal of his remarkable season. Nicholas found Dalglish far too elusive and Arsenal's defence was under pressure from as early as the thirteenth second when Dalglish disturbed the side netting from close range. Only briefly on either side of the interval did it cease.

The origin of two of Liverpool's goals was, notably, down the right. Sansom, struggling to contain his England colleagues, Lee and Neal, left his station twice too often before almost becoming a third forward in the second half. Bobby Robson will not be too pleased about that. Twice the young central defender was left stranded out on the touchline.

Dalglish bamboozled him there before the half-hour and Rush prodded in Johnston's misguided header. Hodgson sprinted past him there some 20 minutes from the end and Dalglish, after executing a perfect delicate exchange with Rush, scored from an acute angle. In between Hodgson read Nicholas' backward intentions, rounded Jennings and pulled the ball back for Souness to tap home.

Liverpool's attacks came from all angles and usually at mesmerising speed. Arsenal, vainly attempting to cut off numerous sources, had but one main idea of their own - the hopeful chip over the top. It worked for Talbot, who volleyed in five minutes from time, but Grobbelaar was troubled otherwise only by Rix's outrageously enterprising lob from inside Arsenal's half.

Petrovic, tidy but quiet, is one of few current players who can remember leaving Anfield on the winning side. That was eight years ago with Red Star Belgrade. Everybody else must be consoled by a small morsel of hope. In the next seven weeks Liverpool have only one League fixture at home.

Copyright - The Times

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