Chelsea beat Stoke to maintain 100% record

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The Independent Online

Premier League leader Chelsea maintained its 100 percent start to the season with a 2-0 home win over Stoke thanks to goals by Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba, while Arsenal remained on its shoulder on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Blackburn.

Malouda opened the scoring for the defending champions in the 31st minute, before Drogba joined the winger on four goals for the season by sealing Chelsea's third successive win with a 77th-minute penalty.

Russia forward Andrey Arshavin scored a 51st-minute winner as Arsenal beat Blackburn 2-1 to also remain unbeaten.

Elsewhere, Tottenham lost surprisingly 1-0 at home to previously bottom Wigan, Blackpool and Fulham drew 2-2 and Wolverhampton was held 1-1 by Newcastle.

Free-scoring Chelsea won its opening two league games 6-0 but found goals harder to come by against a team which lost 7-0 at Stamford Bridge last season.

England midfielder Frank Lampard had a penalty saved by Thomas Sorensen in the 11th minute after Malouda was brought down in the box but the in-form France international found the net just after the half-hour mark when he ran onto a pass from John Terry to shoot home.

Ashley Cole hit the bar as Chelsea threatened a second but Stoke, still without a point this season, also went close when Glenn Whelan did likewise at the other end.

Drogba, who scored a hat trick in the opening-day win against West Bromwich Albion, got back on the scoresheet by slotting home a penalty 13 minutes from time after Nicolas Anelka had been fouled by Sorensen. Lampard had been substituted at that stage.

Chelsea stayed two points ahead of Arsenal, which had produced a resilient display at Ewood Park a few hours earlier.

Buoyed by his hat trick in last weekend's 6-0 thrashing of Blackpool, Theo Walcott opened the scoring for Arsene Wenger's side in the fourth minute after running onto a through ball by Robin van Persie to slam a low finish into the corner.

Blackburn equalized through on-loan striker Mame Diouf in the 20th but Arsenal otherwise defended well at a ground where the team has often struggled against the hosts' direct style.

Arshavin stroked home the winning goal six minutes after the interval when a shot by Cesc Fabregas hit Walcott and rebounded into the Russia midfielder's path.

Tottenham, which found out before kickoff it will be playing fierce north London rival Arsenal in the third round of the League Cup, was expected to see off a Wigan side that started Saturday bottom of the table, having conceded 10 goals in two games. Spurs also beat Wigan 9-1 at White Hart Lane last season.

But the visitors produced the shock of the day thanks to Hugo Rodallega's goal in the 80th minute. Wigan had earlier come close to breaking the deadlock when defender Steve Gohouri hit the bar from close range in the first half.

Tottenham came back down to earth after beating Young Boys 4-0 to make the Champions League group stage for the first time, England striker Jermain Defoe's powerful first-half shot one of the team's few chances.

Unbeaten Wolves was put under pressure by Newcastle early in the first half but opened the scoring in the 43rd minute through Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, the striker's second goal in as many weeks.

Striker Andy Carroll leveled for Newcastle in the 62nd, his fourth goal in two games.

Dickson Etuhu maintained Fulham's unbeaten start with a late equalizer in the draw at Blackpool. Bobby Zamora, who later went off injured, put Fulham in front but an own goal by John Pantsil and Luke Varney's debut strike put the promoted side ahead.

Manchester United hosts West Ham later Saturday.

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