Drogba gives Arsenal blues as Liverpool humbled

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea’s Didier Drogba proved Arsenal’s nemesis again as he inspired the champions to a 2-0 win over their London rivals and Blackpool pulled off a stunning 2-1 victory at Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.

Chelsea's Michael Essien (L) challenges Arsenal's Abou Diaby during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London October 3, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Chelsea bounced back from defeat at Manchester City to overpower Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and move four points clear at the top as Liverpool slumped into the relegation zone following Blackpool’s triumph on their first league visit to Anfield since 1971.

Liverpool’s day started badly when more than 2,000 fans marched from the city centre to protest against the ownership of Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett and the defeat left new manager Roy Hodgson with just one league victory in seven matches.

Manchester City beat Newcastle United 2-1 to leapfrog Manchester United and Arsenal and move into second place.

Chelsea, who have beaten Arsenal in their last four league matches, top the table with 18 points, followed by City on 14, United on 13 and Arsenal on 11.

The victory was Chelsea’s sixth in seven league games and Drogba again proved an unstoppable force against Arsenal, giving his side the lead with a stunning flick on the turn after 40 minutes to notch up his 13th goal in 13 appearances against Arsene Wenger’s team.

Defender Alex sealed victory with an unstoppable free kick after 85 minutes, ending a difficult week for Chelsea, during which manager Carlo Ancelotti’s father died, on a high.

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“For the last two days the players have trained exceptionally well -- the day after Carlo’s father’s death was a bit lacklustre,” Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins told a news conference.

“We were disappointing against Manchester City last week and we did not perform all that well today. You saw not a fantastic performance but a different performance in that we ground out a win. The three points was what we went for and that’s what we got.”

Wenger said he was pleased with Arsenal’s performance.

“I just want to say that the game demonstrates how you can play well and lose the game,” he said.

“We had the chances to score today, two in the first two minutes, but when you have the chances you have to score. We need to be more clinical offensively -- and defensively.”

Blackpool stunned Liverpool with a 29th-minute penalty from Charlie Adam after Glen Johnson’s foul on Luke Varney who struck again for the visitors before halftime.

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Defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos pulled one back for Liverpool after 53 minutes when he headed home a Steven Gerrard free kick, but the home side, who lost Spain striker striker Fernando Torres with an injury after nine minutes, were unable to fight back.

“It’s a bad result and a very bad day,” Hodgson told a news conference. “There’s nothing more I can say. We were very anxious to get back on track, to get the three points and lift ourselves up the table.

“No words or anything I can say can change that situation or make it better,” he added.

“It’s pointless to try and be positive and say the second half was better and we could have got an equaliser because we lost the game -- a game we did not want to lose.”

Manchester City took the lead against Newcastle with a first-half penalty from Carlos Tevez and England’s Adam Johnson fired a 75th-minute winner after Jonas Gutierrez had equalised.

The visitors also lost striker Hatem Ben Arfa with a suspected broken leg.

“It does not look good,” Newcastle manager Chris Hughton told reporters. “It looks like a broken leg. Everyone will have their own opinion but it was a tackle that did not need to be made.”

Editing by Ed Osmond