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Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL: Hazard helps Chelsea go top; Arsenal thumped at Liverpool

EPL: Hazard helps Chelsea go top; Arsenal thumped at Liverpool

Last updated on: February 08, 2014 23:14 IST

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.

Eden HazardWith 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.

Earlier 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.

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.

Liverpool crushed Premier League leaders Arsenal 5-1 with a stunning display of attacking football at Anfield that revived their title hopes and raised doubts about the visitors' championship credentials.

The first four goals came in the opening 20 minutes as Liverpool ripped a disorganised Arsenal side to shreds, turning what has long been regarded as a three-horse title race into a four-way battle with Liverpool back in the hunt.

Two early goals from Martin Skrtel, a Raheem Sterling double and one from Daniel Sturridge lifted Liverpool to 50 points with 13 matches left to play, five points behind Arsenal and three behind Manchester City and Chelsea who are in action later.

The only bright spot for the shell-shocked Gunners, who went into the match unbeaten in eight league games, came when Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta scored with a 69th minute penalty.

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.

It was Liverpool's 22nd goal from a set-piece this season, and 10 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 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the "defensive stability" of his side would keep them in the hunt for honours 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 Luis 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 of the match by firing home a rebound after Szczesny had saved his first attempt.

Arsenal pulled one back when Arteta scored from the spot after Gerrard mistimed a tackle on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,

Arsenal will have a quick chance of avenging their first league defeat at Anfield since 2007 when the two sides meet in an FA Cup fifth round tie the Emirates next weekend.

Image: Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring his second goal against Newcastle United during their English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

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