Fri, Dec 05, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Chelsea, Man City show Premier League might

AFP, LONDON

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, right, challenges Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen during their English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in London on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

The Premier League is already threatening to turn into a two-horse race after leaders Chelsea and closest rivals Manchester City both cruised to one-sided victories on Wednesday.

Chelsea preserved their six-point advantage at the summit by beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-0, while Sergio Aguero scored twice as defending champions City kept pace with a 4-1 success at Sunderland.

Southampton’s last-gasp 1-0 loss at Arsenal left City with a four-point cushion in second place, and the ease of the leading pair’s successes suggests the gap is only likely to increase.

Chelsea had been held to a goalless draw at Sunderland at the weekend, but they returned to winning ways against Tottenham, who have not won at Stamford Bridge since February 1990.

Chelsea were missing top-scorer Diego Costa due to suspension, but after Spurs striker Harry Kane had rattled the crossbar with an early header, the hosts went ahead in the 19th minute.

Eden Hazard picked the ball up wide on the left, swapped passes with Costa’s replacement, Didier Drogba, and beat visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at his near post with a powerful left-foot shot.

It was a disappointing moment for the France goalkeeper, and there was more frustration to come three minutes later.

Lloris fluffed a goal-kick straight to Hazard, who in turn fed Oscar, and the Brazilian teed up Drogba to fire home.

Loic Remy replaced Drogba in the second half and he found the target in the 73rd minute to complete a straightforward evening for Jose Mourinho’s side, who remain unbeaten.

“They started better than us and should have scored before us, but after our first goal our team became more stable and confident and we controlled the game,” Mourinho told BBC Sport. “I’m really happy with the points, performance and spirit of the players. It’s too heavy a result, though, for Tottenham.”

City had lost 1-0 on their previous four visits to Sunderland, but they ended the sequence thanks in no small part to a brace from in-form striker Aguero.

Captain Vincent Kompany’s hamstring injury and Eliaquim Mangala’s suspension saw City line up with Dedryck Boyata and Martin Demichelis at centerback, and they fell behind in the 19th minute when Connor Wickham got ahead of Pablo Zabaleta to score.

However, Aguero equalized two minutes later, effortlessly slipping past Sebastian Coates and crashing home a ferocious shot from just inside the box.

Aguero’s astute lay-off allowed Stevan Jovetic to make it 2-1 in the 39th minute and after Samir Nasri had teed up Zabaleta to chip Costel Pantilimon 10 minutes into the second half, Aguero claimed his second.

The Argentina international neatly converted James Milner’s cross in the 71st minute to register his 14th league goal of the season and confirm his status as the league’s most dangerous player.

“Sergio is only 26 and he can improve every day,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “At the moment, we are seeing very high performances from him. Not only is he scoring, but he’s playing well as well.”

Arsenal closed to within two points of fourth-place Manchester United after Alexis Sanchez’s 89th-minute goal snatched a 1-0 win at home to third-place Southampton.

Visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster twice saved superbly from Danny Welbeck and produced a fine stop to repel substitute Olivier Giroud’s header, only for Sanchez to tap in Aaron Ramsey’s drilled cross at the death.

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