LONDON (dpa) – There was no holiday hangover for the Premier League’s top three teams on Friday as each won comfortably.
Chelsea kicked off the traditional Boxing Day programme with a 2-0 victory over West Ham to extend their lead to six points.
Defending champions Manchester City responded with a 3-1 win at West Brom to reduce the deficit back to three, while third place Manchester United also won 3-1 against Newcastle.
John Terry and Diego Costa scored as Chelsea remained perfect in nine home league matches this season.
“We played a very good game against a very difficult opponent,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “We coped very well with the direct football.
“The team is stable. We are doing very well.”
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 Boxing Day games, and have gone nine straight without a loss against West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
“We did not do enough to affect them today because of the quality they have,” West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said. “I said if we were going to get anything against Chelsea you have to play your best but even then that might not be good enough.”
With Chelsea winning the day’s early kick-off, the pressure was on Manchester City to keep pace, and the defending champions rose to the occasion.
Fernando, Yaya Toure and David Silva scored in the first half for City. Conditions then worsened in the second half as snow started falling at The Hawthorns.
“I am very pleased with the performance,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said after his club’s seventh straight league win. “It was very difficult to play, especially in the second half.”
Wayne Rooney scored a brace as Manchester United stretched its unbeaten run to eight games and remain 10 points back of Chelsea.
Rooney gave United a 2-0 half-time lead and Robin van Persie added a third after the break. Pappis Cisse then scored a late consolation penalty for Newcastle, who lost their third straight.
Saido Mane, Ryan Bertrand and Tober Alderweireld had the goals as Southampton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 to jump over West Ham into fourth place.
Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky scored as 10-men Arsenal held on to beat QPR 2-1. Olivier Giroud was sent off for the Gunners in the 53rd minute for head-butting Nedum Onouha after the two came together.
Charlie Austin scored with a penalty for QPR, who have started the season with nine away losses to match Bolton Wanderers’ record from the 1995-96 campaign.
Christian Eriksen’s goal gave Tottenham a 2-1 win over last-place Leicester, who are winless in 13 games. Swansea beat Aston Villa 1-0 on a goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson, while Raheem Sterling scored in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Burnley.
Hull City won 3-1 at Sunderland to end a 10-match winless run and climb out of the relegation places, and Stoke beat Everton 1-0.