LONDON, October 30- Chelsea maintained their five-point gap at the top of the English Premier League on Saturday after coming from behind to defeat Blackburn, as Arsenal kept pace with a late win over West Ham.
A Branislav Ivanovic header on 84 minutes clinched a dramatic 2-1 victory for Chelsea at Ewood Park after Nicolas Anelka had cancelled out Benjani Mwarurwari’s opener for Rovers.
"We knew before this game it was going to be difficult," Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We took a fantastic result, a fantastic three points."
It was a heart-breaking defeat for Rovers, however, who despite hovering only one place above the relegation zone, outplayed Chelsea for long periods.
"It’s a bit hard to take at the moment that we lost the game," Rovers boss Sam Allardyce told Sky Sports.
"We have to take it on the chin, but for me it’s about lifting the players. If we continue with that level of performance we should be all right and start picking three points up."
Arsenal also left it late to snatch a 1-0 win over West Ham at the Emirates, finally breaking the Hammers’ resistance in the 88th minute with a goal from Alex Song to see the Gunners stay in touch at the top.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his side’s patience in breaking down a dogged West Ham, who remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
"It was a battle where on our side we needed to be patient, intelligent, and sometimes a bit lucky," Wenger said.
"At the end of the day, our ‘keep going’ spirit got us through. We didn’t make mistakes at the back, we kept a clean sheet."
Arsenal now have 20 points from 10 matches, five behind Chelsea. Manchester United can go level on points with Arsenal later on Saturday if they defeat Tottenham in the late game at Old Trafford.
While Arsenal and Chelsea celebrated wins, fourth-placed Manchester City capped a miserable week by crashing to a shock 2-1 defeat at Wolves.
City — beaten 3-0 at home by Arsenal last Sunday — slumped to a second consecutive loss that put a big dent in their nascent title aspirations.
City went ahead through an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty on 23 minutes, the Togolese international making no mistake from the spot after Richard Stearman had brought down David Silva.
But Wolves fought back bravely, hitting the post before Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas levelled for Mick McCarthy’s men on 30 minutes.
David Edwards then rifled in the second on 57 minutes and Wolves were able to keep their big-spending opponents at bay for a deserved win.
It was a dismal setback for City, who badly missed the presence of injured captain Carlos Tevez in attack.
The result is also certain to cast fresh scrutiny on City’s players, who were criticised by coach Roberto Mancini prior to the match for their drinking habits.
Mancini later accused City of complacency.
"Maybe we thought it was an easy game," Mancini said. "But in football easy games don’t exist. Wolves deserved to win."
Elsewhere, Everton continued their march up the table with a 1-0 victory over Stoke at Goodison Park, Nigeria’s Ayegbeni Yakubu scoring his first league goal for six months as the Toffees extended their unbeaten run to five matches.
At Craven Cottage, two goals from Fulham striker Clint Dempsey set up a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Cottagers against Wigan.
Dempsey struck in the 30th and 44th minutes to give the Londoners a valuable three points, which take Mark Hughes’s side into eighth position.