Arsenal close in on Liverpool

Arsenal close in on Liverpool

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Aaron Ramsey in a 4-1 victory at Stoke City on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

LONDON – Arsenal edged to within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool with an impressive victory on Saturday.

With Chelsea having wrapped up the title on Friday and Sunderland and Middlesbrough already relegated, the final flurry of matches will decide which two clubs join the champions Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League and who becomes the third side to slide through the trapdoor.

Arsenal maintained their late challenge with a classy 4-1 victory at Stoke City to keep the pressure on Liverpool who now sit just one point above the in-from Gunners.

Olivier Giroud’s brace and goals from the brilliant duo of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil sealed an emphatic victory for Arsenal who have won five of their past six games to jump right back into contention.

“We had a difficult week but we’ve won convincingly so the focus is there, the fighting spirit is there and we’re pleased to win,” manager Arsene Wenger told the BBC.

“I believe when the team plays well we have the right individual talent to win. We just have to win our games.”

Peter Crouch scored Stoke’s solitary goal — though appeared to convert the ball with his hand.

For much of a season in which they sacked two managers, Swansea have looked destined to return to the second tier after a five-season stay in the top flight.

But under Paul Clement they have improved dramatically and Saturday’s 2-0 victory at hapless Sunderland means they will be safe if Hull City lose to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton were both on target for the Swans who have 38 points with one game left, the same as Crystal Palace who have a superior goal difference.

Hull have 34 with two games left.

“It’s a huge result for us. We’ve got ourselves into a strong position but the season is not over and we don’t think it is done. Now have to look to next week,” Clement said.

In the battle for south coast bragging rights Southampton beat Middlesbrough 2-1 on Saturday with goals by Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond keeping them above Bournemouth who beat Burnley 2-1 thanks to Joshua King’s late winner.

Southampton are ninth and Bournemouth 10th with both clubs on 45 points.

Liverpool play West Ham United on Sunday.

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