Chelsea throw down the gauntlet

Leaders record 7-2 win over Sunderland for biggest win in half a century.

    Seventh heaven: Lampard completes the rout [GALLO/GETTY]
    Leaders Chelsea hit seven goals in the top-flight for the first time in 50 years when they hammered Sunderland 7-2 to lay down an ominous marker for the second half of the English Premier League title race.

    Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka scored twice as Chelsea turned on the style to move to 48 points, one more than champions Manchester United who were made to sweat for a 3-0 home victory over Burnley.

    Arsenal beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 on Sunday to go three points behind Chelsea while West Ham drew 0-0 with Aston Villa and Blackburn beat Fulham 2-0.

    Three of the teams battling for fourth place had days to forget on Saturday as Manchester City lost 2-0 at Everton, Tottenham Hotspur drew 0-0 at home to Hull City and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Stoke City.

    Chelsea had won just two of their previous six league games but clicked into gear immediately against an injury-hit Sunderland side described by their manager Steve Bruce as "inept".

    The points were effectively in the bag after 22 minutes following goals from Anelka, Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole.

    Lampard made it 4-0 from close range before Michael Ballack headed the fifth and further goals from Lampard and Anelka completed a memorable win.

    "It was a fantastic performance, maybe the best this season, and we need to continue to play," manager Carlo Ancelotti told Sky Sports News.

    New Laws

    United struggled to break down Burnley before goals in the second half by Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Mame Biram Diouf ended the resistance of the visitors, playing under new manager Brian Laws for the first time.

    Roberto Mancini's four-game winning run since he took over at Manchester City ended when resurgent Everton outplayed his side at Goodison Park.

    A free kick by Steven Pienaar and a Louis Saha penalty put Everton two-up at halftime and only the peppered woodwork saved City from a heavier defeat.

    The win took Everton's unbeaten league run to seven games and was a wake-up call for Mancini, who introduced Robinho as an early substitute and then took the $52.28 million Brazilian off in the second half after another ineffectual performance.

    While Everton are on the rise, neighbours Liverpool continue to struggle and they have now dropped 29 points this season compared to the 28 they leaked in the whole of last season when they were runners-up to United.

    Sotiris Kyrgiakos's scrappy 58th-minute goal seemed likely to give them a much-needed lift after their FA Cup defeat by Reading on Wednesday but Stoke's Robert Huth equalised in injury time to leave manager Rafa Benitez frustrated again.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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