Saturday 08 February 2014
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Chelsea returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League on Saturday as Eden Hazard's hat-trick against Newcastle United ensured they took full advantage of slip-ups by their closest rivals in an increasingly unpredictable Barclays Premier League title race.
Jose Mourinho's charges took advantage of Arsenal's 5-1 reverse at the hands of Liverpool in the early kick-off and Manchester City's goalless draw at Carrow Road to leapfrog their title rivals thanks to a 3-0 win over Newcastle. Hazard produced a virtuoso performance and took his tally for the season to 14 goals with an impressive treble that opened with an emphatic strike midway through the first half. The Belgium midfielder doubled his side's lead on the break after 34 minutes and converted a penalty just after the hour.
Favourable results elsewhere leave the Blues a point clear at the summit as Arsenal were routed 5-1 by Liverpool earlier in the day thanks to two goals apiece by Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling, as well as a Daniel Sturridge effort. Mikel Arteta's penalty came as scant consolation to the Arsenal fans who made the long trip to the north-west, where the Gunners have also suffered defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City this season.
Man City could have gone top themselves with an away win but now find themselves in third place after being held to a goalless draw by Norwich. Manuel Pellegrini's previously free-scoring side – who last month reached 100 goals in all competitions faster than any team in the Barclays Premier League era – have run into unforeseen problems in their last two outings, losing 1-0 to Chelsea last time out and drawing a blank against the Canaries. The closest they came to a goal was when Alvaro Negredo headed a first-half corner against the crossbar.
Southampton were also frustrated at St Mary's Stadium where they twice surrendered the lead in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Stoke City. Goals by Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis put the hosts ahead, but they were pegged back on each occasion through Peter Odemwingie's maiden strike for the Potters and then Peter Crouch's close-range effort shortly before half-time.
There was better news for Crystal Palace as Tom Ince and Joe Ledley marked their debuts with goals in the Eagles' 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. Ince opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour, combining with Yannick Bolasie before lifting the ball over the advancing Ben Foster. That lead was doubled 12 minutes later when Ince swung in a corner and Ledley rose unchallenged to power a header into the net from close range. West Brom substitute, and another debutant, Thievy Bifouma reduced the deficit at the start of the second half, but Marouane Chamakh's 69th-minute penalty sealed the points for Palace.
West Ham United won on their travels thanks to a second brace in as many matches by Kevin Nolan. The club captain, who scored twice in a 2-0 win over Swansea City last time out, repeated the trick against Aston Villa with both strikes coming early in the second half.
Hull City managed a victory by the same scoreline at Sunderland, whose cause was not helped by the third-minute dismissal of defender Wes Brown for a foul on Shane Long. Hull made the most of their numerical advantage with Long scoring his second goal in as many matches with a first-half header, and fellow January signing Nikica Jelavic opening his goal account for his new club with a header of his own after the interval.
In the late fixture, Garry Monk got off to a winning start in his new role as head coach of Swansea City, who won the South Wales derby 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Second-half goals by Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony saw off the challenge of local rivals Cardiff City and will have also done the former Swans captain's chances of becoming Michael Laudrup's long-term successor the power of good.
You can follow all the latest reaction to Saturday's matches in our new Carlsberg Live Match Centre with all the up-to-date comment and information from the fixtures. Carlsberg Live Match Centre will be providing all the build-up to Sunday's matches from 9am as well with more scores, stats and commentary and trivia revealed as the matches unfold. So why not join in the conversation by sending in your views and comments too? Just go to http://live.premierleague.com/.
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal | #LIVARS | Matchday Live >>
Aston Villa 0-2 West Ham United | #AVLWHU | Matchday Live >>
Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United | #CHENEW | Matchday Live >>
Crystal Palace 3-1 West Bromwich Albion | #CRYWBA | Matchday Live >>
Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City | #NORMCI | Matchday Live >>
Southampton 2-2 Stoke City | #SOUSTK | Matchday Live >>
Sunderland 0-2 Hull City | #SUNHUL | Matchday Live >>
Swansea City 3-0 Cardiff City | #SWACAR | Matchday Live >>