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Aug 21, 2010

Chelsea and Arsenal both hit six

Chelsea wasted little time in returning to the top of the Premier League table in Saturday's late kick-off, cruising past Wigan 6-0 to lay down yet another warning to their title rivals at the DW Stadium.

• Palmer: Walcott makes mark
• Premier League Gallery
• Team of the Week: August 22

Aided by another seriously concerning display of defending from Roberto Martinez's Wigan side, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun helped themselves to goals as the champions made it 12 in two games.

Malouda was first to register, reacting much faster than the sleeping Maynor Figueroa after Chris Kirkland had parried Frank Lampard's shot. Then came Anelka's quick-fire brace in four second-half minutes, taking advantage of Kirkland's awful positioning for his first and then heading home from close range to notch his second.

There was one potential sour note for Carlo Ancelotti when John Terry escaped a second yellow card after a malicious challenge on Charles N'Zogbia, but the Blues retained focus to add a fourth when Didier Drogba unselfishly fed Kalou late on. Drogba had a hand in three goals throughout the afternoon, clipping over a perfect cross for Kalou to make it five, and then Benayoun came off the bench to open his account as the champions ran riot.

Blackpool's honeymoon period in the Premier League came to an excruciating end at Emirates Stadium as Theo Walcott inspired Arsenal to a 6-0 victory.

Ian Holloway spoke pre-match about the need to ensure Blackpool's dream afternoon did not turn into a nightmare in North London, but his players failed to heed the warning as they returned to the changing room at half time 3-0 down, and a man down. Ian Evatt saw red for the visitors and Walcott took full advantage to bag himself a hat-trick.

It was Walcott who opened the scoring when he completed a flowing Arsenal move on 12 minutes, and then Blackpool were dealt the piece of hard luck they could ill afford, with Evatt sent off for a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh. Evatt's challenge appeared to come outside the box, but Andrei Arshavin cared little as he doubled his side's lead from 12 yards.

Walcott then doubled his personal tally with the help of some poor goalkeeping, and there was more misery for Blackpool after the break as Abou Diaby expertly turned home Bacary Sagna's cross, before Walcott completed his hat-trick with yet another cool finish after he meandered his way into the area.

With the match wrapped up, Arsene Wenger was able to give half-hour appearances to Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, and Chamakh rounded off the perfect afternoon late on by opening his Emirates account after he had earlier missed an open goal.

Tottenham were also celebrating on Saturday as their depleted squad secured a 2-1 triumph at Stoke thanks to the brilliance of Gareth Bale.

The Wales international opened the scoring with a messy strike at the Britannia Stadium, and he then added the match-winner with an early contender for goal of the month.

A goalmouth melee saw Spurs lead thanks to a ricochet off Bale's face, but there was no questioning his second goal, which was a quite spectacular volley into the top left corner. Ricardo Fuller had momentarily brought Stoke back on level terms at 1-1, but they could not find a second equaliser as Harry Redknapp claimed his first three points of the season.

West Ham are looking like early relegation contenders after they produced yet another woeful defensive display in a 3-1 home defeat to Bolton.

Wanderers made a bright start at Upton Park, with Johan Elmander sending a glorious early opportunity wide of an upright, but they were thankful to Jussi Jaaskelainen for the 0-0 half-time scoreline after the Finnish goalkeeper saved Carlton Cole's soft penalty.

The Hammers were made to pay just three minutes into the second half, with Matthew Upson sending the ball into his own net under pressure from Kevin Davies, receiving a suspected broken nose in the process. And things got worse for Avram Grant's side before full time, with Elmander making up for his earlier miss with an excellent finish.

Mark Noble gave the Hammers temporary hope of a recovery by succeeding where Cole failed from 12 yards, but more bad defending allowed Elmander to kill the game with his second.

West Brom produced the perfect reply to their 6-0 hammering at the hands of Chelsea, beating Sunderland 1-0 thanks to debutant Peter Odemwingie. The Nigeria international missed a sitter in the first half, but he made amends with nine minutes remaining to the delight of the Hawthorns faithful.

Everton will be lamenting a huge opportunity to pick up three points after they drew 1-1 with Wolves at Goodison Park.

David Moyes' side deservedly led at the interval in the first home game of their campaign, having dominated Wolves for nearly the entire 45 minutes.

The breakthrough eventually arrived two minutes before the break, when Tim Cahill reacted first to Mikel Arteta's blocked free kick, slamming the ball into the roof of the net. The pattern continued into the second half as Everton continued to control matters, but they were made to pay for their profligacy when Sylvain Ebanks-Blake equalized with 15 minutes remaining.

Birmingham also came from behind against Blackburn, winning 2-1 at St Andrew's thanks to a Craig Gardner brace. After a dour first half, the game exploded into life three minutes into the second period, with young referee Michael Oliver awarding a penalty for a foul by Nikola Zigic on Chris Samba.

Morten Gamst Pedersen stepped up and struck his spot kick cleanly, but Ben Foster produced a magnificent reaction stop to turn the penalty onto the bar.

Blackburn didn't rue the miss for long as they took the lead through Steven N'Zonzi's header, but they could not hold onto the advantage as Blues hit straight back and eventually earned all three points on home turf thanks to Gardner.

Appearing in the right place at the right time on both occasions, the former Aston Villa man first turned home James McFadden's volleyed cross, and then found himself in yards of room from Sebastian Larsson's pass to take all three points for Blues.

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