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Arsenal halt Tottenham's charge as Chelsea stay top

Robin Van Persie tormented Tottenham with two goals as Arsenal won the north London deby.
Robin Van Persie tormented Tottenham with two goals as Arsenal won the north London deby.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arsenal crush London rivals and top-four hopefuls Tottenham 3-0 as Robin Van Persie scores twice
  • Chelsea briefly extend Premier League lead to five points with 4-0 victory at 10-man Bolton
  • Second-placed Manchester United reduce it to two points again, beating Blackburn 2-0 in Saturday's late match
  • Fifth-placed Liverpool have two players sent off in 3-1 defeat at Fulham
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(CNN) -- Arsenal dealt a crushing blow to the top-four aspirations of London rivals Tottenham with a 3-0 victory on Saturday, while Chelsea remained top of the English Premier League with a 4-0 win at 10-man Bolton.

Manchester United stayed second, two points back, with a 2-0 win at home to Blackburn.

Tottenham had been hoping that the balance of power had swung after a promising start to the season, with captain Robbie Keane and manager Harry Redknapp stoking the clubs' rivalry with their pre-match comments.

But for all their brave words, Spurs -- who were missing key players in Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric -- have still not won in the league at Arsenal since 1999.

Two goals at the end of the first half killed off the visitors, with Robin Van Persie netting the first of his brace from Bacary Sagna's cross and captain Cesc Fabregas scoring after winning possession straight from the kickoff.

Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong cleared off the line from Abou Diaby, but Dutch forward Van Persie put the result beyond doubt from close range 15 minutes after the break from another Sagna cross, with the referee playing advantage after Benoit Assou-Ekotto fouled substitute Eduardo.

Arsenal's victory, which left them third -- three points above Spurs -- was marred by a groin injury to striker Nicklas Bendtner, who is expected to be sidelined for a month.

Tottenham's defensive problems continued as Bassong picked up a hamstring injury in stoppage time.

Chelsea briefly moved five points clear at the top with a resounding win at Bolton, whose resistance crumbled after defender JLloyd Samuel was sent off just before halftime for bringing down Didier Drogba in the penalty area.

England midfielder Frank Lampard made it 1-0 from the spot-kick, then former Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka set up Deco, who doubled the lead in the 61st minute after evading Paul Robinson's challenge.

It was 3-0 after 83 minutes when home defender Zat Knight put into his own net under pressure from Branislav Ivanovic -- who had a first-half effort ruled out as Michael Ballack was deemed to be offside -- as they sought to meet Ricardo Carvalho's cross.

Drogba wrapped it up in injury-time after Lampard flicked on Anelka's cross as Chelsea beat Bolton by four goals for the second time in four days following their home League Cup win in midweek.

Manchester United were too strong for a Blackburn side hit hard by a swine flu outbreak and who needed goalkeeper Paul Robinson to keep them in contention with a series of fine saves.

Robinson was finally beaten by his former Tottenham teammate Dimitar Berbatov in the 55th minute, when the Bulgarian superbly turned and volleyed into the net after collecting Patrice Evra's speculative low cross-shot.

England striker Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 with three minutes left after debutant Gabriel Obertan missed two easy chances, turning in Anderson's cross at the near post, while Rovers were left aggrieved when substitute Nikola Kalinic saw a late effort wrongly ruled out for offside.

Tottenham remained in the top-four as fifth-placed Liverpool were unable to follow up last weekend's morale-boosting win over Manchester United and crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Fulham after having two players sent off.

The London side were already 2-1 ahead when visiting defenders Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher both saw red within three minutes.

Striker Bobby Zamora put Fulham ahead in the 24th minute from Damien Duff's cross but Spain forward Fernando Torres leveled three minutes before halftime with a spectacular volley.

Erik Nevland made it 2-1 on 73 when goalkeeper Pepe Reina could only parry Paul Konchesky's cross and Zoltan Gera headed the ball back across goal.

Degen was dismissed four minutes later for a reckless lunge on Clint Dempsey, then Carragher also went for bringing down Zamora.

American Dempsey sealed victory with three minutes to play with a close-range finish as Fulham moved up to 11th.

In Saturday's other games, Burnley increased the pressure on struggling Hull boss Phil Brown with a 2-0 victory.

Veteran Graham Alexander netted a 20th minute penalty and wrapped it up with another goal on 77, as Hull had Brazilian midfielder Geovanni sent off for a second yellow card eight minutes earlier and stayed in the relegation zone.

Cash-strapped Portsmouth remained on the bottom despite crushing Wigan 4-0 at home, with Aruna Dindane netting a hat-trick and fellow striker Frederic Piquionne scoring the other goal before being stretchered off with a head injury.

Everton were held 1-1 at home by Aston Villa, with both teams having a player sent off.

Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov opened the scoring for the hosts in first-half stoppage time, but Norway striker John Carew - who had replaced Emile Heskey at halftime - made it 1-1 within two minutes of the restart.

Bilyaletdinov was shown a straight red card for a late tackle on Stiliyan Petrov with three minutes to play, then Villa's Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar received a second yellow card for fouling Nigerian forward Yakubu.

Wolverhampton came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke, with defender Jody Craddock netting both in the second half.

West Ham remained second from bottom on goal difference ahead of Portsmouth, also blowing a two-goal lead at Sunderland before both teams were reduced to 10 men.

Strikers Guillermo Franco and Carlton Cole made it 2-0 after just 36 minutes, but Andy Reid pulled one back for the hosts with a free-kick three minutes later before teammate Kenwyne Jones was red-carded in first-half stoppage time for retaliating after being fouled by Herita Ilunga.

Winger Kieran Richardson leveled the match on 76, but West Ham held on despite having Radoslav Kovac sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute.