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Blues climb back to second

CHELSEA beat Manchester City 1-0 with a Michael Essien goal to move back up to second place in the English Premier League yesterday.

Chelsea is four points behind leader Manchester United, which was hammered 1-4 at home by Liverpool on Saturday. United, which has played a game fewer than its rivals, has 65 points with Chelsea and Liverpool both on 61.

Essien struck in the first half after being teed up by fellow midfielder Frank Lampard and Chelsea should have run out a more comfortable winner against a poor City side which remains on 35 points, just six points above the bottom three.

Chelsea's victory extended new coach Guus Hiddink's unbeaten start since taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari to seven matches.

On Saturday, Liverpool rekindled the title race with the mauling of United at Old Trafford.

After its midweek thrashing of Real Madrid in the Champions League, Liverpool responded to falling behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty with another sensational display to seal a league double over the champion.

Fernando Torres and a Steven Gerrard spot kick edged Liverpool in front by halftime. Fabio Aurelio then curled in a 77th-minute free kick to make it 3-1 after United defender Nemanja Vidic had been sent off.

Substitute Andrea Dossena lobbed a fourth in stoppage time to make it a humiliating afternoon for United which had been on an 11-match league winning streak and was unbeaten in 16.

"It was a great team performance from back to front," Gerrard told Sky Sports. "It was a magnificent win. It's not very often you see Man United get beaten 4-1 at home."

With Aston Villa not in action until later at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal moved up to fourth place and the last Champions League spot by beating Blackburn Rovers. Arshavin, signed during the January transfer window from Zenit St. Petersburg, scored in the 65th for his first goal with the Gunners and had a hand in two more.

The Russian's shot in the second minute took a deflection off Blackburn defender Andre Ooijer for an own goal. Emmanuel Eboue added the third from a rebound after Arshavin's shot had been blocked by Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson and the Ivory Coast midfielder added the fourth from the penalty spot. Arsenal has 52 points from 29 games, leading Villa on goal difference having played one more game.

Middlesbrough remained second from bottom after a 1-1 home draw with fellow struggler Portsmouth, Hull City drew 1-1 with Newcastle United while Bolton Wanderers went down 1-3 at home to Fulham. Wigan Athletic beat Sunderland 2-1 away and FA Cup semifinalist Everton sent Stoke City back into the drop zone with a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park.


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