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Early risers Liverpool go top
Martyn Herman | November 15, 2008 20:42 IST
Last Updated: November 16, 2008 00:55 IST
Liverpool took full advantage of an early kickoff at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, winning 2-0 to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Dirk Kuyt nodded Liverpool in front midway through the first half from a precise Fabio Aurelio cross and Steven Gerrard wrapped up the points after the break with another header.
Liverpool have 32 points from 13 games but Chelsea can reclaim top spot on goal difference if they beat bottom club West Bromwich Albion in a later kickoff.
Arsenal's [Images] title hopes suffered another blow as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa, Gael Clichy's own goal and Gabriel Agbonlahor's strike condemning the Gunners to a fourth league defeat of the season.
Sunderland moved out of the bottom three with a 2-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers but Tottenham Hotspur are back in it after a 2-1 reverse at Fulham, manager Harry Redknapp's first defeat in seven matches since taking over last month.
Ten-man Wigan Athletic drew 2-2 at Newcastle United while Portsmouth drew 0-0 at West Ham United.
Liverpool fielded a virtual second-string side when losing at Tottenham in the League Cup on Wednesday but were back at full strength as they outclassed Bolton.
The only surprise was that manager Rafael Benitez left striker Fernando Torres on the bench despite the Spanish hitman being fit again.
Dutchman Kuyt repaid Benitez's decision to start him instead of Torres with a majestic opener after 28 minutes, craning his neck to head in Aurelio's cross after a mesmerising spell of possession football from the visitors.
Robbie Keane should have made it 2-0 before the break but completely missed the ball in front of goal.
Gerrard also wasted a glorious chance in the second half while an improved Bolton should have equalised when Ricardo Gardner stumbled having taken the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Torres replaced Keane and it was his beautiful cross that allowed Gerrard to glance in Liverpool's second goal with 17 minutes remaining.
"The second goal was crucial and we could have got more, we had two or three very clear chances," said Benitez.
Arsenal suffered an off-day at the Emirates against a Villa side pushing hard for a top-four place.
Villa's Ashley Young had a first-half penalty saved by Manuel Almunia but the visitors took a deserved lead after 70 minutes when Clichy headed Young's cross into his own net.
Agbonlahor capped a fine Villa display when he raced away, held off the challenge of William Gallas and fired a shot past Almunia.
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