LONDON: Pedro Rodriguez scored twice as red-hot Premier League leaders Chelsea crushed Bournemouth 3-0 on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) to register a club-record 12th consecutive league victory.
Pedro struck either side of Eden Hazard’s 50th English league goal at Stamford Bridge to give Antonio Conte’s side a provisional seven-point lead at the summit following the Boxing Day action.
“To win 12 games in a row is not easy in this league,” Chelsea manager Conte told the BBC.
“It’s a fantastic run, but it’s important to continue that now. In four days we have another tough game (against Stoke City) and we have to prepare very well. Because now, every team wants to beat you.”
With Liverpool not in action until Tuesday, when they host Stoke, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City stole past them into second place by winning 3-0 at bottom club Hull City.
Olivier Giroud prevented Arsenal losing more ground, his 86th-minute header snatching a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion to keep Arsene Wenger’s side in fourth place, nine points off the pace.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one goal and set up two more as Manchester United drew level with fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur by beating Sunderland 3-1, while champions Leicester City lost again.
Chelsea’s victory, which came in the absence of suspended duo Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante, left them one win short of Arsenal’s 2002 record of 13 successive victories within the same top-flight season.
Pedro broke the deadlock in the 24th minute, curling a left-foot shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Hazard made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half, rolling a penalty into the bottom-right corner after he had drawn a foul from Simon Francis, with Pedro adding a deflected shot in stoppage time.
City lost the recalled John Stones to an early injury and were made to sweat before three second-half goals secured victory at Hull.
Yaya Toure scored a 72nd-minute penalty after Andrew Robertson fouled Raheem Sterling, with a Kelechi Iheanacho tap-in and a Curtis Davies own goal completing the win.
“There is always pressure for us because the top of the league is tough and the other teams at the top had won today,” said Guardiola.
“Every game we play is like a final.”
Beaten 2-1 by Everton and then City on their two previous outings, Arsenal narrowly avoided going three league games without winning for the first time since January 2012.
Opening draw for Allardyce
Alexis Sanchez’s shot against the post looked to be the closest Arsenal would come until Giroud marked his return to the starting XI by looping a header over Ben Foster with four minutes to play.
“In the end we had to be patient against a well-organised West Brom side. When you don’t score early, you can’t rush,” said Wenger.
“We knew we had to win today after two disappointing defeats.”
Manchester United sank Sunderland to record a fourth successive league win for the first time under manager Jose Mourinho.
Ibrahimovic teed up Daley Blind to open the scoring in the 39th minute before Paul Pogba freed him to run through and net his 17th goal of the season.
Ibrahimovic turned provider again late on, crossing for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to seal victory with a stunning ‘scorpion kick’ volley that was allowed to stand despite a suspicion of offside.
United are now level on points with Tottenham, who visit Southampton on Wednesday.
Fabio Borini replied for the visitors, but it was a return to forget for Sunderland manager David Moyes, sacked by United in April 2014.
“I didn’t like the first-half performance. I like the result,” said Mourinho.
“The players know the principles of how we play and they are comfortable, but we need to improve.”
Sam Allardyce was denied victory in his first game as Crystal Palace manager after Troy Deeney’s 100th Watford goal earned his side a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road.
Ex-England manager Allardyce saw Yohan Cabaye put Palace ahead, but Christian Benteke had a penalty saved by Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes before Deeney equalised from the spot in the 71st minute.
Champions Leicester’s woes continued as they were condemned to a ninth defeat of the campaign as Everton claimed a 2-0 win.
Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku scored to leave Leicester three points above the relegation zone in 16th place.
West Ham United eased their relegation fears by winning 4-1 at second-bottom Swansea City, while Andre Gray’s late effort gave Burnley a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.