Liverpool, England (Sports Network) – Peter Crouch made quite a return to the Liverpool lineup on Saturday at Anfield as the lanky English striker scored three goals to lead the Reds to a 4-1 win over Arsenal.
The win moves Liverpool past the Gunners and into third place in the Premiership standings. It also serves as a little bit of revenge for Rafael Benitez’s side, who were soundly beaten in their three previous games against Arsenal this season.
Crouch opened the scoring after just four minutes, and added his second goal 10 minutes before halftime. Daniel Agger then gave the home side a three-goal cushion with his tally in the 60th minute. William Gallas pulled a goal back for Arsenal in the 73rd, but Crouch answered that by completing his hat-trick in the 81st.
Jermaine Pennant and Alvaro Arbeloa worked a nice one-two on the right side before Arbeloa took the return pass and sent in a cross from the end-line. Crouch beat Arsenal defender Kolo Toure to the near post and struck the ball first-time past keeper Jens Lehmann.
Liverpool then made the most of a free-kick chance in the 35th to double its lead. Xabi Alonso alertly played a quick free-kick wide to Fabio Aurelio, who took possession of the ball before swinging in a cross. Crouch got on the other end of the cross and held off Arsenal’s Abou Diaby to head the ball home, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Emmanuel Adebayor nearly cut the Arsenal deficit in half shortly after the restart, but his rocket from 25-yards out came back off the post.
In the 60th minute Liverpool once again made the most of a free-kick chance with Aurelio’s cross finding the head of Agger, whose glancing header beat the diving Lehmann to make it 3-0.
Three minutes later, Adebayor was denied once again, this time on a fine save by Liverpool keeper Jose Reina. The Gunners did find their way onto the scoreboard 10 minutes later, with Francesc Fabregas sending his corner into the box and Toure flicking the ball on for Gallas, who easily finished the play at the back post.
The day belonged to Crouch, however, and he found his third goal 10 minutes from time. Nice work by Pennant and Dirk Kuyt gave the ball to Crouch inside the area, and he made a neat move to create space before firing past Lehmann to complete his hat-trick.
In other Premiership action on Saturday, Manchester United maintained its six- point advantage with a 4-1 win over Blackburn, while Chelsea needed a goal from Salomon Kalou in stoppage time to slip past last-placed Watford 1-0.
Bolton got a goal from Kevin Davies to beat Sheffield United 1-0, while Charlton also scored the lone goal in its match with Wigan, off the foot of Darren Bent. Fulham got a stoppage-time goal from Ian Pearce to earn a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth, Manchester City got a goal from Emile Mpenza to beat Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park and West Ham got a huge 2-0 win against Middlesbrough.
Sunday’s lone fixture features top-half clubs Tottenham and Reading and the weekend’s action rounds out on Monday with Aston Villa hosting Everton.