Chelsea on top again, beating Arsenal in English Premier League

LONDON: Didier Drogba''s double returned Chelsea to the Premier League summit with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday that left its London rival nine points adrift.

The Ivory Coast forward scored both goals inside 23 minutes, and Chelsea then successfully contained Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

For all their intricate play, the third-place Gunners lacked a cutting edge, just like last Sunday when they were dismantled by another title rival, Manchester United.

United is now two points behind Chelsea after briefly returning to the top Saturday by routing Portsmouth 5-0.

Chelsea, though, immediately bounced back from its surprise draw midweek at relegation-threatened Hull. Even the attempts by Arsenal fans to unsettle John Terry, who was sacked as England captain on Friday, failed as their chants were drowned out by the Chelsea faithful.

The Chelsea captain managed to evade the attention of the Arsenal defense in the eighth minute when the home side went ahead.

Terry ran through unmarked to flick on Florent Malouda''s corner for Drogba at the far post to finish from close range.

The Ivory Coast forward cut inside and then smashed the ball past Manuel Almunia with his left foot to score his 12th goal in 10 matches against Arsenal.

Arsenal continued to have lots of possession, but Cech never looked seriously threatened. Fabregas shot wide and Gael Clichy missed the target from 30 meters (yards) before halftime.

Drogba almost completed his hat trick late in the game but his free kick crashed against the crossbar.

Chelsea extended its unbeaten home run to 24 matches, last losing at Stamford Bridge to Arsenal in Nov. 2008.

Chelsea''s win would appear to have put the Premier League title out of reach for Arsenal.

Wenger''s side had put themselves back in contention by clawing back an 11-point deficit after a 3-0 home loss to Chelsea in November, and even had a brief spell at the top of the standings.

Now the north London club needs to beat a rejuvenated Liverpool on Wednesday to prevent the fourth-place team moving to within two points of third.