ENGLAND - Chelsea moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 defeat of Liverpool at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

ENGLAND - Chelsea moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 defeat of Liverpool at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

Second-half goals from France pair Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda settled an absorbing contest as Chelsea returned to form following last week's defeat at Wigan Athletic.

Chelsea have 21 points after seven wins in their opening eight games, while Liverpool drop out of the top four below Arsenal, who earlier hammered Blackburn Rovers 6-2.

Manchester United are second with 19 points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur on 16 with Arsenal and Liverpool on 15.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fell behind twice before hitting back to beat Blackburn 6-2 yesterday to stay just behind the leaders in the Premier League title race.

Although goals by Steven Nzonzi and David Dunn threatened an upset at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners replied through Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin before half time.

Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner added three more in the second half for Arsenal's fifth victory in seven games.

Walcott was making his first appearance of the season.

"I'm happy with the team's performance," said Fabregas, who contributed to five of the six Arsenal goals. "You can always do better. It's just one more game in the race for the title."

Asked why he kissed the Arsenal badge on his shirt after his goal, the Spaniard said it was to underline his loyalty to the club.

"There's always some speculation that I don't really like to be here," he said. "I'm committed to this club 100percent."

The victory gives Arsenal 15 points with a game in hand on most of its rivals while Blackburn remains in the lower half of the standings.

Rovers stunned the Arsenal fans by taking the lead through Nzonzi's header in the fourth minute from a long range free kick. It was the first goal Arsenal 'keeper Vito Mannone had conceded in 359 minutes.

Vermaelen equalised in the 16th minute with a shot from the edge of the area but Blackburn regained the lead when David Dunn's shot took a deflection off William Gallas.

Van Persie made it 2-2 with a low shot and Arshavin scored the third in the 37th minute.

Fabregas scored Arsenal's fourth with a left footer from the edge of the area and Walcott finished a move with a right-footed shot in the 75th.

Bendtner added the sixth with a minute to go with a powerful drive.

Later yesterday, Chelsea aimed to replace Manchester United at the top of the standings by beating Liverpool at home while Everton hosted Stoke and Fulham went to West Ham.

On Saturday, Manchester United needed an injury time equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford and Portsmouth ended its losing run with a 1-0 victory at Wolves. - Reuters, Sapa-AP