LONDON - Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was arrested early yesterday in connection with an alleged assault at a bar that left a man hospitalized with facial injuries.

The England midfielder was detained by police at 2:30 a.m. in Southport along with five other men after the brawl and remained in police custody for questioning, a person close to the investigation said on condition of anonymity. British police do not publicly name suspects unless charges are brought.

A 34-year-old man was taken to hospital with facial injuries that are not believed to be life threatening, police said. The disturbance happened outside the Lounge Inn in the seaside town less than 10 miles north of Gerrard's home in Formby in Merseyside.

"Merseyside Police is investigating an assault that took place in the early hours of Monday on Bold Street in Southport," police said in a statement, without naming Gerrard. "Six men were arrested on suspicion of section 20 assault on Lord Street." The other men held are not believed to be footballers, but are from the Huyton area of Liverpool, where Gerrard was brought up and spotted by Liverpool scouts at the age of eight playing for Whiston Juniors.

Liverpool, which next faces Preston on Saturday in the FA Cup, was making no comment.

The arrest came only hours after Gerrard commented the current Liverpool side "the best" he'd played in after the Merseysiders ended 2008 as Premier League leader after thrashing Newcastle 5-1.

"This is the best team I have played with," he said. "If we want to stay at the top and be involved in this title race we have got to deal with the pressure. But if we keep playing like this we will be there."

Liverpool extended its lead to three points atop the Premier League standings after captain Gerrard scored twice and set up another goal at Newcastle.