Chelsea ripped apart 10-man Premier League title rivals Arsenal in a 6-0 mauling on Saturday to ensure Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game turned sour as Liverpool and Manchester City kept up the pressure with big wins.
Yaya Toure scored a hat-trick, including two penalties, as City wrapped up a punishing 5-0 victory over 10-man Fulham and Luis Suarez’s prolific run continued with a treble as Liverpool twice came from behind to thrash Cardiff City 6-3.
The goals were spread about for Chelsea with Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schuerrle, Eden Hazard, Oscar (2) and Mohamed Salah on target for the leaders in a match likely to be remembered for a bizarre refereeing blunder as much as the hosts’ cut and thrust.
Official Andre Marriner flashed a red card at Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs for a handball on the goalline but his team mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the culprit. The sending-off did little to affect the destination of the points, however, as Arsenal were already 2-0 down when defender Gibbs was dismissed and Hazard stepped up to convert the resulting penalty to make it 3-0 after 17 minutes.
Chelsea stayed four points clear of second-placed Liverpool, the Londoners having played a game more, with Manchester City six adrift of the leaders in third but with three games in hand. Arsenal slipped to fourth seven points off the pace.
Everton moved up to fifth with a 3-2 win over struggling Swansea City and Norwich City improved their chances of avoiding the drop by beating relegation rivals Sunderland 2-0, their second goal a stunning volley from Alex Tettey.
West Bromwich Albion lost 2-0 at Hull City and Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse scored in stoppage time to inflict a painful 1-0 defeat on lowly Crystal Palace.
Arsenal manager Wenger did not have to wait long to realise his 1,000th game would not be a fond occasion to look back on. It was the second time in six weeks that his side had visited a major title rival and left with their tails between their legs after a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool last month.
In a similar vein to that encounter, their defence was all at sea in the early stages at Stamford Bridge, allowing Chelsea to effectively wrap up the points within minutes of the kickoff.
“We started incredibly,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “Seven minutes gone we were 2-0 up, it’s game over.”
Terrible defending allowed Chelsea to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, with Eto’o curling a superb left-foot finish into the corner for the opener and Schuerrle finishing with a low drive to make it 2-0 after seven minutes.
It was then referee Marriner’s turn to rival Arsenal’s blundering backline for the day’s costliest error as he gave Gibbs his marching orders after Oxlade-Chamberlain had made a diving fingertip save to deny Hazard.
Replays showed an incredulous Oxlade-Chamberlain mouthing, “It was me” at the official, but the decision stood, with Hazard firing home from the spot and Oscar sidefooting in from close range to make it 4-0 at the break.
Oscar curled in a second and Salah came off the bench to slot home his first goal for the club to complete the rout and leave Wenger nursing a painful sense of personal failure.
“This defeat is my fault,” he said. “I take full responsibility for it. I don’t think there’s too much need to talk about the mistakes we made. We got a good hiding today.”
For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App nowFirst Published on: March 23, 2014 1:29 am