In a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday in the Barclays Premier League, Liverpool reignited their title challenge with a demoralising 5-1 annihilation of Arsenal, who began the day with an eight-game unbeaten run in top spot.
Martin Skrtel got a knee to Steven Gerrard’s free-kick after just 52 seconds, and the same combination helped the Reds double their lead when Skrtel flicked in a header from Gerrard’s corner on 10 minutes.
Luis Suarez then volleyed against the post from another Gerrard corner, but a third goal would arrive on 16 minutes when Suarez crossed from the right for Raheem Sterling to score.
Four minutes later, Daniel Sturridge grabbed the fourth from a superb Philippe Coutinho through-ball.
Kolo Toure’s pass over the top was converted by Sterling at the second time of asking for a fifth goal on 52 minutes, and Arsenal, who had Jack
Wilshere back in their side – were only able to muster a penalty goal consolation from Mikel Arteta (69).
It was the first time Liverpool had hit five against the Gunners in the league since 1964 and Brendan Rodgers’ men are only six points off top spot.
Elsewhere Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0 to go top of the Premier League for the first time since September as Eden Hazard’s first hat-trick for the Blues at Stamford Bridge on Saturday put them on top, a point above Arsenal who must lick their wounds after an Anfield hammering.
The Blues were without John Terry for the first time this season in the league due to a muscular strain.
David Luiz switched to centre-back, with Frank Lampard and Oscar coming in. Luuk de Jong started for Newcastle for the first time, while Cheick Tiote
was out injured.
Hazard’s first goal came on 27 minutes, the Belgian getting on the end of a Branislav Ivanovic pass from the right towards the edge of the area
and slotting across Tim Krul.
Soon afterwards, Petr Cech saved from Moussa Sissoko in a one-on-one situation, and Chelsea scored again on the counter-attack. Willian spread the play wide left to Hazard, who ran into the area and executed a classy one-two with Samuel Eto’o before finishing coolly.
Newcastle lost Mathieu Debuchy to injury before the break, and fell further behind when the defender’s replacement Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa
flattened Eto’o off the ball. Hazard stepped up and completed his treble.
Manchester City are a point further back in third after failing to find a goal at Carrow Road.
James Milner, Gael Clichy and Stevan Jovetic all started for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, with Edin Dzeko dropped to the bench. January signing
Joseph Yobo and transfer rebel Wes Hoolahan were included in the Norwich line-up.
The Canaries thought they had gone ahead on 18 minutes. Joe Hart could only parry Leroy Fer’s powerful header and the ball dropped to Gary Hooper, who poked it over the line – only to see the flag had gone up.
On 36 minutes, Jesus Navas’ corner was glanced on by Martin Demichelis and Alvaro Negredo thumped a header off the face of the crossbar.
The visitors threw everything at Chris Hughton’s side in the second half but couldn’t find a way through.
There were also victories for Crystal Palace, West Ham and Hull City over West Brom, Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively, while Southampton and
Stoke shared four goals.