Liverpool sacked manager Brendan Rodgers following a 1-1 draw with Everton in the Premier League on Sunday, while Arsenal showcased their title credentials by ravaging Manchester United 3-0.
Rodgers’s three-year Anfield tenure came to an end when Liverpool released a statement announcing his dismissal hours after a Merseyside derby draw that left his team 10th in the table.
“We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Brendan Rodgers for the significant contribution he has made to the club and express our gratitude for his hard work and commitment,” Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group said in a statement.
“Although this has been a difficult decision, we believe it provides us with the best opportunity for success on the pitch.”
Rodgers, 42, ultimately paid the price for failing to successfully rebuild a team that had come within three games of winning the Premier League title in 2014.
Liverpool finished sixth last season and despite a second consecutive close-season splurge on new players, they have made a slow start, winning only one of their last nine games inside 90 minutes.
In Rodgers’s final game, Liverpool shared the spoils with Everton after an occasionally ill-tempered 225th Merseyside derby finished 1-1 at Goodison Park — the sixth draw in seven meetings between the teams.
Danny Ings put Liverpool ahead in the 41st minute when he was left unmarked inside the Everton six-yard box and nodded home James Milner’s corner.
But untidy defending by Liverpool allowed Everton to level in first-half stoppage time, with Romelu Lukaku slamming home after Emre Can’s attempted clearance had cannoned against his team-mate Martin Skrtel.
Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal reeled off a stunning 3-0 defeat of Manchester United that sent Arsene Wenger’s side up to second.
Sanchez scored with a sixth-minute back-heel and Mesut Ozil slotted home from Theo Walcott’s cut-back a minute later before Sanchez’s 18-yard thunderbolt completed the scoring in the 19th minute at a giddy Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez has now scored six goals in three games and the Chilean’s latest endeavours helped Arsenal recover from the shock of their 3-2 home defeat by Olympiakos in the Champions League last Tuesday.
“From Petr Cech to Theo Walcott, we only had superb performances,” Wenger told the BBC.
“I have managed many strong teams and never had one that played 60 games at the same level. You have to accept that — we are human beings.”
– Van Gaal ‘amazed’ –
Victory took Arsenal into second, above United on goal difference and two points below leaders Manchester City, who crushed bottom club Newcastle United 6-1 on Saturday in a game that saw Sergio Aguero score five goals.
“That was all for the manager,” said Walcott.
“That first half, we were unbelievable. No-one could have dealt with us. It was the best football I have ever been involved in. It was the Arsenal of old.”
United would have gone top with victory, but instead they were left to nurse their wounds following the joint-heaviest league defeat of Louis van Gaal’s tenure as manager.
“I didn’t expect that,” Van Gaal admitted. “I was surprised — not performing our game plan, not the will to win. I didn’t see that.
“We were top of the league (before the weekend), so I was surprised. Amazed, maybe that is a better word.
“When you give a team like Arsenal so much space to play football, then you know that you shall lose.
“And we have prepared ourselves also in that way, to play more contact but don’t lose your aggression. It was amazing for me and I am very disappointed.”
In the day’s other game, Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen scored with a pair of fine 25-yard free-kicks as Tottenham Hotspur twice hit back to secure a 2-2 draw at Swansea City.
Swansea were twice in front, courtesy of a 16th-minute Andre Ayew header and a 31st-minute own goal by Harry Kane, but Eriksen replied on each occasion to extend Spurs’ unbeaten run to seven league games.
Rodgers was the second Premier League manager to part company with his club on Sunday after experienced Dutch coach Dick Advocaat stepped down at Sunderland following a return of three points from eight games that left the northeast club second from bottom.
“This is a very special football club, with so many great people, but I feel it is the right time to do this — not for me, but for the club,” said Advocaat, who rescued Sunderland from relegation last season. – Agence France-Presse