Eden Hazard scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Newcastle United 3-0 to storm to the top of the Premier League on Saturday, leapfrogging Arsenal, who were hammered 5-1 at Liverpool.
Manchester City missed the chance to go top after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Norwich, leaving Chelsea one point clear of Arsenal with City a point further back in third.
Belgium forward Hazard produced a one-man masterclass as Chelsea took advantage of Arsenal’s defeat to hit the top.
Jose Mourninho’s side followed up their midweek win at Manchester City by outplaying Newcastle with ease.
Hazard scored two fine goals to put Chelsea 2-0 up after 34 minutes and then completed his hat-trick from the spot just after the hour mark when Samuel Eto’o was fouled.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was struggling for answers after his side were thumped by a rampant Liverpool team for whom Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling scored two goals apiece.
“It was a very poor day,” Wenger said. “Only our fans were good for 90 minutes.
“We were poor defensively, offensively. The performance was very poor and Liverpool played very well. We have to bounce back as quickly as possible.
“We have shown since the start of the season we can (bounce back) but of course it raises some questions today because we were caught many times and we were a bit naive. We have to think why it happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Liverpool was ahead within 54 seconds when Martin Skrtel got on the end of a Steven Gerrard free kick and the home side were rampant in the first-half.
Pressing hard, Brendan Rodgers’ side were first to every loose ball and they doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Skrtel headed Gerrard’s corner into the top left corner of the Arsenal net.
Arsenal looked shell-shocked and things soon got worse as Luis Suarez squared the ball for Sterling to tap in just six minutes later.
And the match was over after 19 minutes when Philippe Coutinho fed Daniel Sturridge, who finished neatly.
Sterling made it 5-0 seven minutes into the second-half and Arsenal’s only bright spot came when Arteta converted from the penalty spot on 69th minute.
“Everything about the game was incredible,” Rodgers said, before reasserting his belief that winning the title is not a realistic target.
“Our intensity, organisation and pressing...when we press well, we pass well. Our feet are on the ground, we’ll enjoy it but we’ll recover well now and get ready for Wednesday (away to Fulham).
Without Sergio Aguero to provide the inspiration in attack, Manchester City looked flat and was held to a goalless draw by a determined Norwich side at Carrow Road.
Stevan Jovetic went close for the visitors but they were denied top spot and Norwich deserved the point that lifted them two points clear of the bottom three.
West Ham moved out of the bottom three thanks to a 2-0 win at Aston Villa, with Kevin Nolan scoring both goals.
West Brom dropped into the relegation zone after a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, who moved up to 13th with a fine display, which included a first goal for new signing Tom Ince.
Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic scored as Hull won 2-0 at Sunderland to move into the top half while Southampton was held to a 2-2 draw by Stoke City.