5 Apr 2015

Arsenal, Man United keep up chase of leaders Chelsea

10:22 am on 5 April 2015

Chelsea have extended their Premier League football lead to seven points with a 2-1 home victory over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho Photo: Photosport

Stoke City's Charlie Adam scored a wonder goal just before half-time from well inside his own half to cancel out Eden Hazard's penalty and earn comparisons with the all-time great strikes.

The Scotland midfielder stunned the Premier League leaders by sending a remarkable 59-metre lob over Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois in the first half.

Chelsea held firm though to claim all three points after Loic Remy tapped in following a bad mistake from Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic in a mistimed throw that was plucked off by the hosts.

But the Blues' victory came at a heavy price as Diego Costa was ruled out for at least two weeks with a recurrence of his long-standing hamstring injury.

Chelsea star Diego Costa

Diego Costa was injured again Photo: Photosport

The Spain striker came on for Brazilian Oscar at half-time but lasted a matter of minutes before he forlornly trudged off the field.

Earlier, Arsenal thumped Liverpool 4-1 to close to within four points of Chelsea, who now look like champions elect with eight games remaining.

Olivier Giroud heads home the fourth goal against Liverpool

Olivier Giroud heads home the fourth goal against Liverpool Photo: Photosport

They have 70 points from 30 games with Arsenal on 63 and Manchester United on 62, both having played a game more.

Manchester United also retained their slim title hopes by beating Aston Villa 3-1, and go above rivals and champions Manchester City, who are on 61 points ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday morning.

Liverpool also had Emre Can sent off late in their loss at The Emirates, and the Reds are a distant fifth.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers concedes their hopes of a top-four finish and a Champions League place are all but gone now - they're on 54 points, seven behind City.

"It was a game we needed to take something from," Rodgers said. "We didn't defend well enough in key moments of the game."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers Photo: Photosport

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger played down his side's hopes of reeling in Chelsea, although the leaders still have to play Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.

"What we can master now mathematically is the top four, where we will finish," he told reporters. "For the title we need us to be perfect and Chelsea not to be perfect, so let's focus on what we can master."

Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera scored at the end of each half and Wayne Rooney added a spectacular strike in between as Manchester United notched their 3-1 home win over Villa and moved above City into third place.

"We are looking up and we have to win every week, but anything is possible," United boss Louis Van Gaal said.

It was a good day for teams striving to avoid relegation with bottom club Leicester City 2-1 home winners over West Ham United to move to within four points of safety.

But 18th-placed Queens Park Rangers also won, crushing West Bromwich Albion 4-1 for a rare away win.

Hull City's worries deepened, however, after a 3-1 loss at Swansea City.

Southampton's hopes of a top-four spot look forlorn after a 1-0 defeat at Everton left them in sixth place.