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Schuerrle's hat trick helps Chelsea extend BPL lead

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The Canadian Press
3/1/2014 1:19:57 PM
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LONDON -- Andre Schuerrle's hat trick sent Chelsea four points clear at the top of the English Premier League with a 3-1 victory at Fulham, capitalizing on Arsenal losing at Stoke on Saturday.

Chelsea took until the second half to trouble the league's bottom team, but Schuerrle then ripped through the defence with ease at Craven Cottage to keep Jose Mourinho's side on track for the title.

Having not won on seven previous visits to Stoke, Arsenal came unstuck again as Jonathan Walters clinched a 1-0 victory from the penalty spot. Liverpool moved ahead of Arsenal on goal difference into second by winning 3-0 at Southampton in the late game.

Manchester City dropped to fourth but it was only six points from the top with two games in hand, and could collect its first piece of silverware of the season against Sunderland in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

In the day's biggest controversy, Football Association officials will be investigating Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who was sent off for appearing to head-butt Hull midfielder David Meyler. The touchline altercation overshadowed Newcastle's 4-1 victory at Hull.

Everton recovered from back-to-back league losses by beating West Ham 1-0 and returning to sixth place.

After Chelsea made the short trip to Fulham, Mourinho was so annoyed at a poor first-half display that he wouldn't speak to his players during the break. The silent treatment was motivation enough, and the team was transformed, with the opener coming seven minutes into the new half.

From inside his own half, Eden Hazard picked out Schuerrle, who headed the ball past Dan Burn, ran forward and slotted into the net. Schuerrle was on the end again when Hazard slipped the ball through in the 65th and the Germany midfielder scored. Torres was the creator for the third, with Schuerrle scoring again with ease in the 68th.

Fulham came alive again in the closing stages, but all the team could produce was Johnny Heitinga tapping into an open net.

At St. James' Park, Newcastle wrapped up the victory before halftime with two goals from Moussa Sissoko and another from Loic Remy.

But the real drama unfolded in the 72nd minute with the dismissal of Pardew, who faces a touchline ban. The apparent head-butt happened after Meyler barged into Pardew as he looked to retrieve the ball for a throw-in at KC Stadium.

"He was right on top of me and I wanted to just ease him away from me but obviously I put my head in a forward motion," Pardew said. "I want to apologize."

On the south coast, a fourth straight league win maintained Liverpool's unexpected title push. Strikes from Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling, and a late penalty by Steven Gerrard pushed Liverpool above Arsenal into second.

The Britannia Stadium proved unwelcome territory for another leading team, as Stoke followed up wins over Chelsea and Manchester United, and a draw against City, by seeing off Arsenal.

The breakthrough came with around 15 minutes to go when Laurent Koscielny was penalized for a handball and Walters scored from the spot to clinch Stoke's second win in 11 league games.

"It is not slightly worrying -- it is a big worry for us to lose a game like that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It is a massive setback."

Andre Schurrle (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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