Liverpool thrash leaders Arsenal

Reds win 5-1, Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0 while Manchester City are held to a 0-0 draw at Norwich in the Premier League.

Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 09:18
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Martin Skrtel scored in the first minute of the match before adding a second nine minutes later [Getty Images]

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

The first four goals came in an astonishing first 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.

Arsenal had only conceded four goals in their last eight league matches, in which they were unbeaten, before Liverpool went on the rampage with two early goals from Martin Skrtel,  a Raheem Sterling double and one from Daniel Sturridge.

For once Liverpool's leading scorer Luis Suarez did not find the net, coming closest to a goal with a powerful long-range shot that smashed against a post.

The only bright spot for the shell-shocked Gunners came when Spaniard Mikel Arteta scored with a 69th minute penalty.

Despite the emphatic win and Liverpool's total dominance, which led bookmakers to cut the Merseyside club's title odds from 25-1 to 12-1, coach Brendan Rodgers played down any talk of winning the league.

"Everything about our game was incredible today, it was an amazing performance against an outstanding team. To be fair, the title has not been a target, but we are improving and everything we did today was outstanding," he told BT Sport.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "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.

"Of course, it raises some questions today because we were caught many times and were naive."

Later an Eden Hazard hat-trick swept Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League as they beat Newcastle United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.

City slippers

High-scoring Manchester City, who started the day in second place and could have gone top, slipped to third after failing to find the net for the second successive game in a 0-0 draw at Norwich City.

With 13 games remaining Chelsea are top with 56 points followed by Arsenal on 55, Manchester City with 54 and Liverpool on 50.

Everton (45) and Tottenham Hotspur (44), fifth and sixth respectively, meet at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea, described by manager Jose Mourinho this week as "the little horse" competing against the "big horses" of Arsenal and City, got their noses in front in the most open title race for years with a comprehensive victory over Newcastle.

The visitors had no answer to Hazard's artistry with the Belgium winger scoring in the 27th and 34th minutes. His third goal came from the penalty spot after striker Samuel Eto'o was fouled by substitute Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Mourinho though was unhappy with Chelsea's first half performance despite them leading 2-0 at the break although he praised Hazard and said he could not understand why he had not won a Player of the Month award yet this season.

"We gave them too much freedom to play," he told Sky Sports, "but after that we completely controlled the game".

Although Norwich and Manchester City failed to produce a goal at Carrow Road, the result was something of a moral victory for the Canaries who lost 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium in November.

The visitors, with 115 goals in all competitions this season, also failed to score in a 1-0 home defeat by Chelsea on Monday and only had two shots on target on Saturday.

Coach Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC: "We are frustrated because we could not win. We did all we could do but in front of us there was a team who defended very well."

Although there were no goals at Norwich there were plenty elsewhere, leaving the bottom 11 teams separated by just eight points.

There were wins for Crystal Palace, who beat visiting West Bromwich Albion 3-1 with debutants Thomas Ince and Joe Ledley among the scorers, while West Ham United improved their chances of staying up with a Kevin Nolan double sinking Aston Villa 2-0.

Swansea City, playing their first match under caretaker coach Garry Monk following the sacking of Michael Laudrup on Tuesday, beat arch-rivals Cardiff City 3-0 in the South Wales derby.


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