Chelsea four points clear on League table


Chelsea maintained their grip on the top spot in the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Goals from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic wiped away an early Norwich lead courtesy of Grant Holt.

And that meant neither John Terry or Ashley Cole would be generating many new headlines on this occasion.

Both defenders had been named in the Chelsea starting line-up after being the number one talking point in sport for the previous 24 hours.

On Friday, the Football Association had published the conclusions made by a three-man regulatory commission into a mid-game incident almost a year ago that saw Terry accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, the Queens Park Rangers defender.

Terry had already been told he faces a four-match ban and must pay a £220,000 fine and a 63-page report explained the panel found his version of events “improbable, implausible and contrived” and that Cole’s evidence in support of his team-mate had ‘evolved’.

Cole’s immediate reaction that day had been to insult the FA through his Twitter account, which led to the post being deleted and an apology issued through his solicitor.

But both players were cheered throughout the game by the home fans, who have seen their favourites establish a four-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City.

Norwich, who have not won any of their Premier League fixtures this season, took the lead in the 11th minute through Holt.

Wes Hoolahan’s cross was met beyond the back post by Leon Barnett and his header was thumped low past goalkeeper Petr Cech for Holt’s second goal in as many games.

Chelsea were back on level terms four minutes later when Juan Mata’s back-heel allowed Ivanovic to cross from the right for Torres to head home.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side then took the lead in the 22nd minute through Lampard’s low shot from the edge of the area after Russell Martin had blocked Torres’ overhead-kick attempt.

The goal made him Chelsea’s top scorer in top flight football, equalling Bobby Tambling’s total of 129 goals.

Cole headed a good chance wide at the far post but it was not long before the European champions extended their lead through Hazard in the 31st minute.

Mata was the creator as he won possession in his own half from Hoolahan before advancing to set up the Belgian with a defence-splitting pass as potential challengers backed off.

Hazard, on the left of the penalty area, kept his cool to slot past goalkeeper John Ruddy for his second goal in a Chelsea shirt.

Terry came close to scoring an own goal when he slid in to divert Hoolahan’s shot behind for a corner, but Chelsea pressed for a fourth and Ruddy dived to deny Brazil star Oscar.

Holt put headers wide either side of the break before referee Anthony Taylor decided Barnett’s collision with Hazard in the Norwich box did not merit a penalty.

Ruddy again had to save an Oscar shot before Mata tested him again with a shot from a move he had begun himself deep in Chelsea territory.

Lampard was replaced by Ramires as the game lost its previous competitive edge, with Norwich seemingly resigned to their fate and keen not to lose any more goals.

Chelsea’s fourth goal was thumped in by Ivanovic in the 76th minute after Mata had set him up with a clever flick.

The Premiership League table before the Arsenal-West ham match Saturday:

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Club (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Chelsea 7 6 1 0 15 4 19

Manchester City 7 4 3 0 15 8 15

Everton 7 4 2 1 14 8 14

West Bromwich 7 4 2 1 11 7 14

Manchester United 6 4 0 2 14 9 12

Tottenham 6 3 2 1 11 8 11

West Ham 6 3 2 1 7 5 11

Arsenal 6 2 3 1 10 4 9

Fulham 6 3 0 3 13 9 9

Newcastle 6 2 3 1 8 8 9

Swansea City 7 2 2 3 12 11 8

Stoke City 6 1 4 1 6 5 7

Sunderland 6 1 4 1 5 7 7

Liverpool 6 1 2 3 9 12 5

Aston Villa 6 1 2 3 6 10 5

Wigan Athletic 7 1 2 4 7 13 5

Reading 6 0 3 3 8 13 3

Southampton 6 1 0 5 10 18 3

Norwich City 7 0 3 4 5 17 3

Queens Park Rangers 7 0 2 5 6 16 2