Frankly, the game is up

Seven heaven for runaway Chelsea as United fall at home and Arsenal and Liverpool slip further behind in title stakes
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The Independent Online

Goals galore (well, three of them) at the Bridge and a record to boot for Chelsea, their 2-1 victory being an unparalleled seventh win in a row from the start of the season, and it kept them six points clear at the top. A heady cocktail indeed, seven up and a dash of pure class.

The goals did not exactly flow elsewhere, but most of those scored suited Chelsea's purpose. Charlton, who apparently can beat everyone except the defending champions, kept their remarkable run going with a 2-1 victory at West Bromwich, where Danny Murphy's double protected their second place, but those who were expected to threaten Chelsea's hold on the Premiership trophy came unstuck.

Liverpool, in Chelsea's sights on Wednesday when Jose Mourinho will aim to exact revenge on them for spoiling his side's European Cup ambitions last season, were involved in a veritable goal-feast at Birmingham, but they had to come back from behind just to escape with a point for a 2-2 draw, courtesy of Djibril Cissé's penalty. As Steven Gerrard, the undisputed star of the Liverpool pack, put it: "It was a good game to watch if you're a neutral, but we're going away bitterly disappointed." Oh well, Steven, in the entertainment business you can't always enjoy the kind of happy ending you manufactured in Istanbul in May.

And the Theatre of Dreams put on what Sir Alex Ferguson will have seen as a tragedy, a 2-1 defeat of his side by Blackburn Rovers, who had not won in three away games this season. At Old Trafford Morten Gamst Pedersen, a United fan, took the role of joker with a perfect double-take.

While everyone else has been wondering where the next decent crack that finds the mark was coming from, West Ham have had their fans rolling in the aisles with top-of-the-bill performances. They have been hitting the spot with the regularity of a quickfire comedian at an old-time East End music hall. Now, when almost everyone else was being royally entertained, the stage at Upton Park stage was taken over by balancing acts. All very clever and inventive, but the Hammers and Arsenal cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw that suited no one.

Wigan kept their end-of-the-pier show going at Goodison Park, where the joke was on Everton when Damien Francis scored the only goal, but it could be joke over for Manchester City. Unbeaten under Stuart Pearce until last weekend, they lost for the third time in seven days, this time at Newcastle. Michael Owen scored the only goal - now he really isn't a clown.

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