Chelsea maintained its grip at the top of the Premier League by beating Arsenal 3-0 after two goals from Didier Drogba and an own-goal.

Drogba scored in the 41st minute after Frank Lampard brought the ball down the left and passed to Ashley Cole. The former Arsenal left back crossed to Drogba, who tapped the ball in off the goal frame with his right foot.

An own-goal by Thomas Vermaelen, who turned in a cross by Cole with his right knee, put the visitors ahead 2-0 four minutes later. Chelsea scored a third goal minutes before the final whistle when Drogba’s free kick flew past goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Chelsea leads the standings with 36 points, five ahead of Manchester United. Arsenal is fourth, 11 points behind Chelsea but with a game in hand.

“It’s a team that defends well, that relies on counterattacks,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of Chelsea. “We spend our time developing plays and they wait for the fast break. They have good forwards. That’s why it was very tough (for us).”

“Based on what I saw today on the pitch, that (Chelsea) team can drop points. I am convinced of that. But first we need to recover our serenity and win our matches before hoping that Chelsea will lose some. I really think that everything went their way today.”

It was the first time Arsenal had lost at Emirates Stadium since its 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in May. That loss was Arsenal’s heaviest defeat at Emirates, which opened in 2006. Sunday’s loss was also the second straight game that Arsenal failed to score a goal in the league, following last week’s 1-0 defeat to Sunderland.

The first half had been evenly balanced up until the first goal with both sides managing a couple of shots each. Chelsea also had a strong penalty claim in the 19th, when Nicolas Anelka appeared to be pulled back and then to the ground by right back Bacary Sagna.

Arsenal dominated the opening stages, playing slick passing moves, but Chelsea’s defence and midfield were able to absorb any significant threat.

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri’s shot from close range was saved by goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 24th minute, moments after a header by Drogba was easily caught by Almunia.

Arsenal had chances to get back into the game early in the second half after Eduardo da Silva latched on to a through ball, but two Chelsea defenders closed him down as he was advancing on goal.

Andrei Arshavin had a goal disallowed in the 48th. TV replays showed Eduardo kicking the ball out of Cech’s hands, the ball fell for Fabregas to cross to Arshavin and the Russia international blasted the ball into the back of the net.

Chelsea nearly scored in the 64th when an effort by Drogba from the edge of the area was deflected off William Gallas and then off Lampard’s chest. Almunia just managed to tip it away.

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