Chelsea make room at the top

English champions beat Wolves 2-0 to go five clear in Premier League as Tottenham Hotspur draw 1-1 at home to Everton.

    Can't touch this: Jose Bosingwa keeps Wolves at bay as Chelsea secured a routine win over weaker opposition [AFP]

    Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou scored to give Chelsea a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and open a five-point gap at the top of the English Premier League.

    Malouda struck his seventh league goal of the season and Kalou came off the bench to seal victory after the break for Carlo Ancelotti's side, who secured a club record eighth consecutive home clean sheet.

    Tottenham Hotspur rose to third, seven points behind Chelsea, after Dutchman Rafael van der Vaart made it five goals in seven since joining the north London club, notching his side's equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to improving Everton.

    West Bromwich Albion maintained their dream start to life back in the top flight, moving into fourth place with a 2-1 home defeat of Fulham while Birmingham City beat Blackpool 2-0.

    Sunderland beat Aston Villa 1-0 and Wigan Athletic's home match against Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers ended 1-1.

    Bottom club West Ham United stayed where they were with a 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle United in the late match.

    Manchester City can reduce Chelsea's lead on Sunday when they host Arsenal while Manchester United, down in sixth place, end their turbulent week away to Stoke City.

    Rooney injured

    Wayne Rooney, who signed a five-year-contract on Friday after publicly angling for a transfer, is injured and will miss the match.

    Liverpool are at home against Blackburn Rovers.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday October 23

    Birmingham 2-0 Blackpool
     Chelsea 2-0 Wolves
     Sunderland 1-0 Aston Villa
     Tottenham 1-1 Everton
     West Brom 2-1 Fulham
     Wigan 1-1 Bolton
     West Ham 1-2 Newcastle

    Sunday October 24

     Stoke City v Man Utd
     Liverpool v Blackburn
     Man City v Arsenal

    Chelsea were not the fluent force that racked up 21 goals in their opening five league matches but were watertight at the back against Wolves.

    It took them 23 minutes to break through against a lively visiting side and it was not until the 81st minute that Wolves were finally subdued.

    "It was a tough game because we didn't play so well," Ancelotti said.

    "We suffered from some dangerous situations in the first half and in the second half we conceded too many shots from distance."

    The opening goal owed much to the enterprise down the left of Nicolas Anelka. He played in Yuri Zhirkov and the Russian pulled the ball back into the path of Malouda who was unmarked eight metres out.

    Chelsea have not conceded a league goal at home since March but Wolves came close to breaching the Blue wall on several occasions, most notably when Stephen Hunt's header was cleared off the line by Michael Essien.

    Kevin Doyle also forced keeper Petr Cech to save a low shot and there was a growing sense of unease in the crowd before Kalou made it 2-0 after Essien and Didier Drogba linked up well.

    Ancelotti picked out right back Jose Bosingwa for special praise after the Portuguese made his first league start for a year following a serious knee injury.

    "Bosingwa was one of the best players on the pitch," said the coach.

    "He put a lot of pressure on in the second half by pushing up without the ball and he had opportunities to score.

    "He played very well and he is an important player for us in the future."

    West Brom surprise

    Promoted West Brom are proving surprise packages under the astute management of former Chelsea midfielder Roberto di Matteo.

    "This is beyond my expectations," Di Matteo said after his side came from behind to beat Fulham with goals by Youssuf Mulumbu and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

    "I have absolutely no idea if we can keep it going. There is no secret – it's hard work."

    Tottenham wasted the chance to bolster their top-four ambitions in the early match on Saturday with their 1-1 draw with Everton.

    Van der Vaart scored an unmissable blast from a yard out after 20 minutes after Everton had taken the lead when Leighton Baines curled a free kick past Heurelho Gomes.

    The draw lifted Tottenham into third place with 15 points from nine games but they remained two behind Manchester City.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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