Chelsea go four points clear, City up to second

By Mike Collett, Reuters

Posted at Oct 07 2012 12:05 PM | Updated as of Oct 07 2012 08:05 PM

LONDON - Unbeaten Chelsea put their off-field concerns aside to beat Norwich City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and open up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Champions Manchester City climbed into second place after preserving their unbeaten record with a 3-0 home win over previously unbeaten Sunderland, while Everton slipped a place to third after drawing 2-2 at lowly Wigan Athletic.

West Bromwich Albion maintained their surprisingly good start to the season and ended the day in fourth spot when Steve Clarke's side beat Queens Park Rangers, managed by his old Chelsea team mate Mark Hughes, 3-2 at The Hawthorns.

QPR stayed bottom without a win and with just two points while West Brom have now won their first four top flight home games for the first time since the 1919/20 season when they won their only English championship.

Arsenal came from behind to beat West Ham United 3-1 and climb to fifth after Frenchman Olivier Giroud scored his first goal since a close season move from Montpellier while Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla struck in the last 13 minutes.

Mohamed Diame had put the Hammers ahead with a brilliantly taken angled strike in the 21st minute.

Chelsea top the table with 19 points from seven games, followed by Manchester City on 15, Everton and West Brom on 14 and Arsenal on 12, level with Manchester United who visit Newcastle United in Sunday's late kickoff.

Tottenham Hotspur, who are seventh on 11 points, also play on Sunday when they face lowly Aston Villa at White Hart Lane.

Bad headlines

European champions Chelsea made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the morning newspapers after Friday's publication of the findings of an FA hearing that questioned the accounts given by skipper John Terry and defender Ashley Cole in the racism case involving Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, facing a four-match ban and 220,000 pounds ($356,200) FA fine for his racial slur against Ferdinand last year, and Cole, whose evidence was questioned in the 63-page written document, both played against struggling Norwich, who took a surprise lead through Grant Holt after 11 minutes.

But Chelsea, playing with style and panache, replied four times with goals from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and a superb volley from Branislav Ivanovic.

Lampard's strike was his 129th Chelsea goal in the English Premier League, putting him level with Bobby Tambling as the club's joint-highest top-flight scorer.

Torres maintained his good start to the season with a header to pull the home side level in the 14th minute before Lampard drilled in from 15 meters to put Chelsea ahead eight minutes later.

Hazard made it 3-1 after 31 minutes as Norwich, who lost 5-2 at home to Liverpool last week, looked set for another hiding. But the visitors stemmed the flow of goals after that until Ivanovic struck with a volley 14 minutes from time.

Chelsea focus

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said he was pleased to put the events of the last few days behind him.

"I like to talk about football and watch football, but obviously sometimes you have to talk about other stuff," he told Sky Sports.

"But my job is to keep the team focused on what our targets are and we wanted to win this game and be top going into the international break.

"We played some excellent football and at the moment we seem to be scoring a lot of goals."

Chelsea have now won six and drawn one of their seven games while Norwich remain winless and second from bottom with just three points.

Manchester City climbed to second after beating Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium where Aleksandar Kolarov, Sergio Aguero and James Milner were on target.

Seven changes

Like Chelsea, City remain undefeated and ended Sunderland's unbeaten league record in the process.

With seven changes from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, Roberto Mancini's team took an early lead with a blistering free kick from Kolarov after five minutes.

Substitute Aguero doubled the lead after an hour, smashing home a Kolarov cross and Milner completed the scoring after 89 minutes with a free kick which he curled in with ferocious spin from the left of the penalty area.

Mancini told the BBC: "I think in the first half, we missed two or three chances like other games but we had a good performance. I am happy because we got a clean sheet, scored three but also because of our performance."

Everton salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw after trailing twice at Wigan Athletic with Leighton Baines scoring with a penalty against his former club in the 87th minute.

Reading seemed set for their first league win this season after going 2-0 up at Swansea City through Pavel Pogrebnyak and Noel Hunt but late goals from Michu and Wayne Routledge saw the hosts grab a 2-2 draw to avoid a fourth straight defeat.

($1 = 0.6176 British pounds) (Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)