Chelsea on top as Arsenal crash

Liverpool inflict 5-1 defeat on Gunners

Chelsea on top as Arsenal crash

An Eden Hazard hat-trick swept Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League on Saturday when they beat Newcastle United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge after previous leaders Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 at Liverpool.

Manchester City, who started the day in second place, slipped to third after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Norwich City despite dominating for almost the entire match.
With 13 games remaining, Chelsea are top with 56 points, followed by Arsenal on 55, City with 54 and Liverpool on 50.

Chelsea took advantage of Arsenal's demolition at Anfield with a comprehensive win over Newcastle who had no answer to Hazard's artistry which produced goals in the 27th and 34th minutes with his third coming from the penalty spot after 63.

Liverpool crushed Arsenal with a stunning display of attacking football that produced four goals in an astonishing opening 20 minutes with Martin Skrtel (2), Raheem Sterling (2) and Daniel Sturridge all getting on the scoresheet. Mikel Arteta scored a second half consolation for the Gunners from the penalty spot.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger cut a forlorn figure at the end. "It was a very poor day. We were poor defensively and offensively and Liverpool played very well and we have to bounce back from that as quickly as possible,” Wenger said.

It took Liverpool less than a minute to open the scoring when their Slovakia central defender Skrtel took advantage of a deflection from a Steven Gerrard freekick and kneed the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Ten minutes later Skrtel doubled their lead with a well-directed backward glancing header that looped past the Polish keeper to make it 2-0.

Before the match Wenger said the "defensive stability" of his side would keep them in the hunt for honours – having not won any silverware since 2005 – but his back line were torn to shreds as Liverpool then scored twice more in four minutes.

Sterling made it 3-0 with a tap-in following a superb run and cross from Suarez after 17 minutes and went 4-0 up after 20 minutes when Philippe Coutinho left defender Laurent Koscielny floundering, allowing Sturridge to pick his spot.

Liverpool soaked up what little threat Arsenal posed before striking again to make it 5-0 after 52 minutes when Sterling got his second goal of the match by firing home a rebound after Szczesny had saved his first attempt.

At the other end of the table, Crystal Palace climbed to 13th after a 3-1 win over visitors West Bromwich Albion who slipped into the relegation zone. West Ham United climbed away from the bottom three with a 2-0 win at Aston Villa. Southampton and Stoke City drew 2-2 while Hull City won 2-0 at Sunderland.

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