Rampant Chelsea cement top spot

LONDON, Aug 28, 2010 (AFP) - Chelsea maintained their superb start to the season with a 2-0 win over Stoke on Saturday that kept the Premier League champions on top of the table.

But Arsenal and Manchester United also won and moved onto Chelsea's shoulders in second and third place respectively.

Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea side have been in fine form in the opening weeks, romping to successive 6-0 wins over West Brom and Wigan, and Stoke were unable to halt their momentum at Stamford Bridge.

Carlo Ancelotti (R) looks on during the match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on August 28, 2010. AFP

Florent Malouda struck in the first half and Didier Drogba converted a late penalty to extend Chelsea's 100 percent start.

Frank Lampard wasted a chance to give Chelsea an early lead when his penalty was saved by Thomas Sorensen after Ryan Shawcross fouled Malouda.

Lampard's miss didn't hinder Chelsea for long as France winger Malouda opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a fine strike from John Terry's pass.

Ivory Coast striker Drogba drove home a 77th minute spot-kick after Sorensen fouled Nicolas Anelka.

"It wasn’t our best performance but it was an important result," Ancelotti said.

"I am happy because we won, we didn't concede a goal, we kept a clean sheet we maintained our position at the top of the table."

Manchester United moved to within two points of Chelsea after Wayne Rooney's first goal since March set up a 3-0 win over struggling West Ham at Old Trafford.

Rooney had gone 13 matches without scoring since netting against Bayern Munich last season, but the England striker put United ahead in the 33rd minute.

Ryan Giggs was fouled by Jonathan Spector in the penalty area and Rooney sent Robert Green the wrong way from the spot.

United had squandered the lead twice in their draw at Fulham last weekend, but Sir Alex Ferguson's team went further ahead this time in the 50th minute when Portugal winger Nani collected Rooney's pass and lashed his shot past Green.

Dimitar Berbatov condemned West Ham to a third successive defeat when he volleyed home Nani's cross in the 69th minute.

Tottenham crashed back down to earth after their European exploits as Hugo Rodallega gave Wigan a shock 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.

Harry Redknapp's team had qualified for the main draw of the Champions League for the first time in nearly 50 years thanks to their midweek win over Young Boys.

But they seemed to be suffering a hangover from that result as Rodallega fired home a deflected effort from Hendry Thomas's pass in the 80th minute to seal the points.

It was Wigan's first goal of the season after two successive heavy defeats and went some way to avenging last season's 9-1 defeat in the corresponding fixture.

Earlier, Andrei Arshavin's second-half winner gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory at Blackburn.

Theo Walcott had put Arsenal ahead in the 20th minute with a low finish.

Mame Diouf, on loan from Manchester United, equalised for Blackburn seven minutes later after El Hadji Diouf out-paced new Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.

But Russia winger Arshavin struck in the 51st minute after Bacary Sagna's strong run down the right to leave the Gunners second.

Andy Carroll underlined his growing reputation with Newcastle's equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Wolves.

Chris Hughton's Newcastle had scored six against Aston Villa last weekend, but they fell behind at Molineux in the 43rd minute when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake converted Jelle van Damme's pass.

England Under-21 striker Carroll, the hat-trick star of that Villa demolition, netted Newcastle's equaliser in the 62nd minute with a powerful header from Joey Barton's free-kick.

Fulham rescued a 2-2 draw against Blackpool as Dickson Etuhu's late equaliser denied the hosts a win in their first top-flight game at Bloomfield Road for 39 years.

Bobby Zamora rose to head home Fulham's opener, then Blackpool levelled in the 71st minute when a shot from Luke Varney was diverted into his own net by John Pantsil.

Varney, signed on a season-long loan from Derby this week, clipped home a cool finish in the 76th minute.

But Nigeria midfielder Etuhu held his nerve to equalise in the 87th minute.

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