LIVERPOOL - Liverpool took over at the top of the Premier League table on Saturday, while Manchester City climbed to second place and Manchester United continued their recent revival. With previous leaders Arsenal and Chelsea facing off at the Emirates Stadium on Monday, Liverpool took advantage with a 3-1 win over Cardiff City that took them a point above Arsene Wenger's side.
Manchester City followed their lead by winning 4-2 at Fulham to move above Arsenal on goal difference. United, meanwhile, beat West Ham United 3-1 at Old Trafford to record a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions after the shock of successive home defeats by Everton and Newcastle United. At Anfield, Luis Suarez celebrated his new Liverpool contract by scoring twice against Cardiff to take his tally of league goals to 19 for the season. The Uruguayan, who signed a new "long-term" contract on Friday, opened his account in the 25th minute when he met Jordan Henderson's left-wing centre with a controlled volley that found the bottom-left corner.
The Uruguayan teed up Raheem Sterling to tap home the second goal in the 42nd minute and three minutes later he made it 3-0, curling a glorious shot into the bottom-right corner from Henderson's back-heel. Jordon Mutch replied for Cardiff with a 58th-minute header from a Peter Whittingham free-kick. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised Suarez, telling BT Sport: "For me he's got this in-built brain for football. His view of the game is different to others and he has an anticipation of where the ball is going to drop."
The result added to the gloom around 15th-place Cardiff, whose manager, Malky Mackay, is thought to be on the brink of losing his job after falling out with club owner Vincent Tan. Mackay struck a defiant tone after the game, however, saying: "I won't be walking away. That's the first thing. I'm proud to be the manager of Cardiff City." Manchester City let a 2-0 lead slip at Fulham, but late goals from Jesus Navas and James Milner saw them record a fifth win in their last six league games. Yaya Toure put City ahead in the 23rd minute with the latest fine free-kick from his growing collection, before Vincent Kompany stabbed home the second shortly before half-time.
Kieran Richardson reduced the arrears early in the second period though, and Kompany inadvertently gifted Fulham an equaliser in the 70th minute when he somehow conspired to slice Sascha Riether's cross over recalled goalkeeper Joe Hart for an own goal.
However, David Silva freed fellow Spaniard Navas to restore City's advantage eight minutes later and Milner added a fourth from a magnificent Alvardo Negredo cross in the 83rd minute. "Before they scored for 2-1, we had three or four chances to score and when you miss so many chances, the other team often scores," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini. "We had some bad luck for their second goal -- it was unbelievable -- but it was important for us to recover."
United moved to within five points of the Champions League places with a breezy win at home to West Ham. Wayne Rooney returned to the United line-up after missing the mid-week win at Stoke City in the League Cup with an unspecified injury and he teed up Danny Welbeck to give the hosts a 26th-minute lead.
Adnan Januzaj extended United's advantage 10 minutes later with his first goal at Old Trafford, skilfully skirting James Collins before bending home right-footed. Ashley Young added a third in the 72nd minute with a sumptuous curler, again created by Rooney, before Carlton Cole replied for West Ham. "We played well today," United manager David Moyes told the BBC. "The job is to keep our head down and keep winning games. There is confidence among the players. We are creating a lot of opportunities right now."
Newcastle United climbed to sixth place by winning 3-0 at third-bottom Crystal Palace through a goal from Yohan Cabaye, a Danny Gabbidon own goal and a late Hatem Ben Arfa penalty. Matej Vydra came off the bench to earn West Bromwich Albion a 1-1 draw at home to Hull City in the first game since Steve Clarke's dismissal as manager, netting four minutes from time to cancel out Jake Livermore's opener. Goals from Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch gave Stoke City a 2-1 win at home to Aston Villa, who hit back through Libor Kozak, while bottom club Sunderland spurned a chance to close on the teams above them in a 0-0 draw at home to Norwich City.