|Steven Gerrard (second from right) celebrates one of his two goals with teammates, on Sunday
London: Steven Gerrard scored two penalties as Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at West Ham United to complete a Merseyside win-double over London clubs on Sunday.
Earlier, Everton crushed a woeful Arsenal side 3-0 at Goodison Park to boost their chances of a top four finish and a possible place in next season’s Champions League for the first time in nine seasons.
The two vitally important games had a big bearing on the top of the table with Liverpool top with 74 points from 33 matches, two ahead of Chelsea who have also played 33.
Manchester City, who play Liverpool next week, have 70 points and two matches in hand, followed by Arsenal on 64 from 33 and Everton 63 from 32.
Liverpool continued where Everton left off by chalking up their ninth successive league win after Gerrard put them ahead in the 44th minute with his first penalty after James Tomkins handled a Luis Suarez cross at close-range.
West Ham equalised a minute later with a controversial goal from Guy Demel after former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll appeared to foul Liverpool ’keeper Simon Mignolet in the build-up. The ball dropped to Demel who swept it in.
Referee Anthony Taylor had a long discussion with his assistant before allowing the goal to stand, but there was also controversy surrounding Liverpool’s next goal.
Taylor ruled that West Ham ’keeper Adrian brought down Jon Flanagan although TV replays showed the goalkeeper got a hand to the ball first.
Gerrard, who also scored two penalties against Manchester United last month, made no mistake with his second spot kick, blasting the ball past Adrian into the corner of the net.
West Ham remain in 11th place.
Everton’s sixth successive Premier League win meant that although they stayed in fifth place, one behind Arsenal, they are only a point behind the Gunners with a match in hand in the tight race for fourth spot.
Goals from Steven Naismith, who followed up a rebound off the legs of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to score after 14 minutes, a superb solo effort from Romelu Lukaku after 34 and a third after 62 when a Kevin Mirallas shot went in off Arsenal’s former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta for an own goal, sent Arsenal crashing to another heavy defeat on Merseyside two months after they lost 1-5 at Liverpool.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez hailed his “phenomenal” players. “In terms of satisfaction that you can get as a manager, that’s as good as it gets,” Martinez said. “I thought the performance from the first minute to the last was very strong in every department of the game.
“The players were phenomenal — their awareness, work rate and discipline made it as good a performance as you can get from that point of view.”
Martinez promised chairman Bill Kenwright that Everton would qualify for the Champions League when he took over in June and with six games remaining this season they have a good chance of finishing in the top four for the first time since 2005. (Reuters)