Chelsea on top in English Premier League

LONDON: Chelsea reclaimed pole position in the English Premier League from champions Manchester United with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge here on Saturday.

Chelsea will now hope Liverpool can produce a performance against United on Sunday that will allow the Londoners to stay there all weekend.

The odds were stacked against Sam Allardyce''s side but they enjoyed the luxury of a first-minute let-off when Cole put a free header wide from six yards out.

Lampard had picked him out in front of goal but somehow he failed to hit the target with Paul Robinson helpless in the Rovers goal.

The England international then came close to opening the scoring himself with a curling effort from outside the box that dropped just beyond Robinson''s left-hand post.

But Rovers fell behind in the 20th minute when Gael Givet put through his own goal.

The Frenchman was trying to make sure Didier Drogba did not convert Nicolas Anelka''s cross from the left but could only slide the ball past Robinson.

Drogba then fired wide from close range before the unlucky Givet felt the full force of a Michael Ballack drive in his face.

Morten Gamst Pedersen fired a shot wide from distance as Rovers attempted to get back in the game.

Lampard sent a header from Ballack''s cross just wide before Anelka was denied by a smart save from Robinson.

The keeper was a busy man and his saves from Drogba and John Terry made sure Rovers went in at the break only one down.

That deficit lasted just three second-half minutes, however, as Lampard calmly slotted home a second.

Drogba had set up the chance by out-muscling Givet and when the under pressure Lars Jacobsen could only half clear the cross, Lampard was presented with a simple chance.

The floodgates opened and Michael Essien, the defensive midfielder, made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute when he caught Robinson out of position with a speculative effort from 35 yards out.

Lampard blasted in number four from the penalty spot just before the hour after Ryan Nelsen had tripped Drogba.

Robinson was perhaps fortunate that referee Alan Wiley didn''t award another penalty when he seemed to catch Drogba.

The Ivorian, though, was not to be denied and headed home a fifth in the 64th minute from a corner after Robinson only ended up grabbing at thin air.

Chelsea''s attitude was summed up when England captain and centre-back Terry denied Martin Olsson a consolation by clearing off the line after the defender had lobbed Blues keeper Petr Cech.