LONDON, December 17 – Chelsea reclaimed their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League table after a hard-earned 2-1 win over bottom side Portsmouth on Wednesday.Nicolas Anelka’s first-half strike and a second-half penalty from Frank Lampard secured the first win in five matches for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and ensured it was an unhappy return to Stamford Bridge for former Chelsea boss Avram Grant, now the manager of Portsmouth.
Arsenal’s hopes of catching the leaders suffered a setback when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Burnley, but it was a better night for their north London rivals Tottenham, who claimed an emphatic 3-0 win over Manchester City at White Hart Lane.
Liverpool bounced back from their weekend defeat at the hands of Arsenal by defeating Wigan 2-1 at Anfield.
Grant, who was sacked as Chelsea boss after their 2008 Champions League final defeat to Manchester United, saw his new charges completely outclassed in the opening period and it was remarkable that the home side only went in at the interval with a one-goal advantage.
That came courtesy of a 23rd-minute strike from Anelka following good approach work by Brazilian defender Alex.
But within six minutes of the restart, Portsmouth were back on level terms. Frederic Piquionne fired home from ten yards after Jamie O’Hara’s free-kick had ricocheted through the wall and into the path of the Pompey striker.
Chelsea did not look like re-establishing their lead but the league leaders were thrown a lifeline when Mark Wilson pulled down Branislav Ivanovic in the area and Lampard thumped in the penalty with 11 minutes left.
Arsenal had threatened to overrun Burnley in the opening stages at Turf Moor with Andrey Arshavin hitting the post after Cesc Fabregas had given the Gunners a 7th-minute lead.
But Burnley got back on level terms just before the half hour mark, Graham Alexander converting a penalty after Andre Bikey was pulled down by Thomas Vermaelen.
Chris Eagles struck a post for Burnley early in the second half and both sides spurned chances to claim all three points.
Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar scored twice as Tottenham seriously dented Manchester City’s prospects of a top four finish with a win that left their visitors in eighth place in the table.
Kranjcar fired Tottenham into a first-half lead after a Peter Crouch header had been blocked. Jermain Defoe’s 14th goal of the season then made the points safe after the interval with the striker running on to a Crouch flick-on and Kranjcar claimed his second of the night in stoppage time.
David Ngog gave Liverpool an early lead against Wigan when he met Fabio Aurelio’s 10th-minute cross with a glancing header past former Reds goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
Ngog should have doubled Liverpool’s lead just before the break but fired narrowly wide and it was not until Fernando Torres came off the bench and found the net with 11 minutes left that the points were safe, although Charles N’Zogbia’s injury-time effort for Wigan ensured a couple of nervous moments right at the end.