Chelsea hit the top of English Premier League as Liverpool crush Arsenal
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.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger branded his side “naive” and said that they had conceded goals “in slow motion”.
Liverpool scored four goals in the first 20 minutes at Anfield en route to a victory that took them to within five points of Arsenal, who went into the weekend as league leaders.
“It was a very poor day,” Wenger told BT Sport. “Only the fans were good for 90 minutes. All the rest on our side, we were poor – defensively, offensively – and the goals were all scored in slow-motion.Overall, on top of that, we were caught on two set-pieces at the start. But the performance was very poor and Liverpool played very well, so congratulations to them. We have to bounce back from that, and as quickly as possible.
“We were too open. Every acceleration from Liverpool was deadly for us and defensively, from up front to the back, we were not at the level that you are used to.”
For Arsenal, it was the worst possible start to a run of fixtures that includes a league game against Manchester United on Wednesday, another meeting with Liverpool in the FA Cup next weekend, and a Champions League last-16 tie with defending champions Bayern Munich. Asked how his side could put the defeat by Liverpool behind them, Wenger replied: “By the desire to give the right response. These are top-level sportsmen.
“We have shown since the start of the season we can do that, but of course it raises some questions today because we were caught many times and were a bit naive. I’m confident we will [bounce back]. Of course we produced a poor performance on a day when you couldn’t afford it. But we have to think why, why it happened, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was unsurprisingly delighted by his team’s display, but he was reluctant to talk up their title chances.
“It was an incredible performance,” he said. “It’s not the first time we’ve been outstanding at home, but everything about us today was incredible. Everything was outstanding. We’ve been getting better and better. We’ve got a lot of young players, developing well. But for us it’s just about improving.”
A brace from Martin Skrtel put Liverpool 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, with Raheem Sterling adding a double and Daniel Sturridge also finding the net before Mikel Arteta replied for Arsenal with a 69th-minute penalty.
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.
In the day’s other games, Southampton and Stoke City drew 2-2 while Hull City won 2-0 at 10-man Sunderland, who had Wes Brown sent off after three minutes.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse