|He’s certainly worth all the drama: Didier Drogba, left, fires home the second goal [GALLO/GETTY]|
Chelsea showed they deserve their place at the top of the English Premier League with a blistering 3-0 away drubbing of London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, regaining their five-point lead over defending champions Manchester United.
A double from Didier Drogba and an unlucky own goal from Thomas Vermaelen separated the teams as Arsenal, despite winning their previous 11 home games in all competitions, struggled to make an impression on a Chelsea defence that has conceded just eight goals in 14 league games.
It was a costly second straight loss for the Gunners, leaving them a point further adrift in the fourth Champions League spot, with Liverpool two points behind after Joseph Yobo’s own-goal and Dirk Kuyt’s late strike settled the 212th Merseyside derby at Everton.
Chelsea now top the standings on 36 points. Tottenham Hotspur are third on 26 with Arsenal, who last won the title in 2004, fourth on 25.
Liverpool are fifth on 23.
The match highlighted the key differences between the two London sides as Chelsea’s powerful line-up outmuscled Arsenal’s lightweights and, when in sight of goal, formed a powerful attacking force.
In contrast, Arsenal were content to play a cautious passing game around the box in attacks that all too often petered out thanks to over-elaboration.
There was barely an effort on goal in the opening 40 minutes at the Emirates but the game exploded into life with two near-identical goals in the last four minutes of the half.
Saturday November 28
Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham
Sunday November 29
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
The first came when John Terry slipped a nice pass into the stride of Ashley Cole and when he whipped in a low cross Drogba somehow found space on edge of the six-yard box and steered an excellent side-footed volley into the roof of the net.
Former Arsenal player Cole, relentlessly booed by the home fans, repeated the delivery three minutes later and in an attempt to prevent the ball reaching Drogba, Vermaelen deflected it into his own net in the same spot as the first goal.
Arsenal did have the ball in the net four minutes after the restart but Andrei Arshavin’s goal was ruled out for a challenge on Petr Cech by Eduardo and for all their neat passing and midfield probing they struggled to fashion much in the way of clear chances.
Instead, Manuel Almunia had to make a good diving save to keep out a deflected Drogba shot and when Arsenal eventually ran out of steam Drogba completed an impressive victory by planting a free kick beyond the diving keeper four minutes from time.
“We are playing really well with great team spirit and we need to continue this,” Chelsea captain John Terry said.
“We soaked up the pressure, and going forward the midfielders and attackers were exceptional.”
|Everton’s Sylvain Distin gets stuck in to Dirk Kuyt [GALLO/GETTY]|
In the day’s other big derby Liverpool ended a bleak week on a high note with a morale-lifting victory.
Liverpool’s victory at Goodison Park owed much to Joseph Yobo’s errors.
The Everton centre back inadvertently diverted Javier Mascherano’s 30-yard strike past goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 12th minute, and another late mistake from Nigeria international led to Kuyt’s goal.
Yobo’s error on an attempted clearance in the 80th allowed Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to seize the loose ball and tee up Albert Riera for a shot that was parried by Howard but then kicked into the net by Dirk Kuyt.
Liverpool’s first league victory since October 25 against Manchester United was secured without injured striker Fernando Torres, and the win will have helped lift some of the gloom surrounding the club in the wake of their elimination from the
“It was an important game to move up the league,” Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said.
“We’ve not performed as well as we’d have liked this season. But we’re the ones who can change that, with a couple of wins hopefully we can do that, but we still have a long way to go.”
Everton’s third straight loss leaves them two points above the relegation zone.
Everton striker Jo did find the back of the net twice but he was correctly judged to be offside both times.
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina almost handed Everton a soft goal when he
fumbled Steven Pienaar’s long-range shot and the ball dropped behind him before he quickly recovered it.
Reina made two crucial saves from Tim Cahill’s header and Marouane Fellaini’s follow-up.
In the other Sunday game, Lee Bowyer scored in the third minute to give Birmingham a 1-0 victory over Midlands rival Wolverhampton.