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Chelsea beats Liverpool 2-0 to top Premier League

CHELSEA charged to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Liverpool yesterday while Arsenal twice fell behind before crushing Blackburn 6-2.

After champion Manchester United had been held 2-2 at home by Sunderland on Saturday, Chelsea took full advantage by beating another title rival at Stamford Bridge with Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda scoring second half goals.

"It was important for us to beat Liverpool as they are a direct opponent for the title," said Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. "It was a difficult game as always but a good one for us. You have to win at home and it is great to get the three points. We are really delighted."

Anelka stretched out a leg to turn home a cross from co-striker Drogba in the 60th minute and Malouda added the other in the final minute from another Drogba cross to give Chelsea its seventh victory in eight games and make up for last weekend's surprise 3-1 loss at Wigan.

For Liverpool, its third defeat means it has now lost more games than the whole of last season when it finished runner up to United. Rafa Benitez's team is now in fifth place and six points behind Chelsea.

"You have to be disappointed as you want to win every game but at this stage of the season we have to keep improving," Benitez said.

"We were much better defensively. Also we were playing against a good team and had our chances, so there are some positives. Chelsea are a good team, they work very hard. We lost the ball and they scored the first goal, so everything changed."

Although goals by Steven Nzonzi and David Dunn threatened an upset at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners replied through Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin before half time. Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner added three more in the second half for Arsenal's fifth victory in seven games. Walcott was making his first appearance of the season.

The victory gives Arsenal 15 points with a game in hand on most of its rivals while Blackburn remains in the lower half of the standings.

"We are in a strong position. Despite the fact that we have lost two games," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

"If you look at the away games we had, we were in places that all teams can drop points and we had four away games to (both Manchester teams), Everton and Fulham. We got six points. But we had the impression that we should have won the two games at Manchester and that made our resolve even stronger."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce was furious his team didn't get a penalty when, at 3-2 down, David Dunn was brought down by Vermaelen.

"This is why we're always into pushing for technology," a visibly angry Allardyce said. "If I'm given the opportunity to challenge two or three decisions a game, I could challenge that one instantly, get the right decision given and we could have the chance to get some points out of Arsenal today."

This was Arsenal's first game since Arsene Wenger, who joined the Gunners in September 1996, became the club's longest serving manager. Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, who spent eight years under Wenger at Arsenal, was in the crowd to see this impressive fightback.

Stoke captured a point with a 1-1 draw away to Everton and West Ham scored an injury time equalizer to finish 2-2 at home against Fulham.

Robert Huth's 50th minute header gave Stoke the lead at Goodison Park where Leon Osman replied five minutes later.

Although Carlton Cole gave West Ham a 16th minute lead and Fulham had South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgucao sent off after a clash with Scott Parker at Upton Park, the 10-man visitors hit back with Danny Murphy's 47th minute penalty and a goal by Zoltan Gera.

But substitute Junior Stanislas made it 2-2 in the second minute of injury time with a deflected shot.

On Saturday, Manchester United needed an injury time equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford and last place Portsmouth finally ended its seven-game losing run with a 1-0 victory at Wolves.

Elsewhere, Burnley beat Birmingham 2-1, Hull edged Wigan 2-1 and Tottenham was held 2-2 at Bolton.

Today, Manchester City visits Aston Villa.


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