London:Nicolas Anelka hit a hat-trick to help Chelsea beat visiting Sunderland 5-0 in the Premier League and rebound from last week's loss to Liverpool.
While Arsenal's poor week continued with a humiliating 2-1 loss at Stoke which let Manchester United take third place with a 4-3 win over visiting Hull on Saturday, Anelka scored twice in the first half and once in the second as Chelsea went to 26 points.
Frank Lampard also scored his 100th career league goal but Chelsea had to wait for the result of Liverpool's late match at Tottenham to find out whether its win was enough to take it above the Reds at the top of the Premier League. Liverpool can keep first place if it avoids defeat at last-place Spurs.
Chelsea never looked like losing at Stamford Bridge, particularly after Brazil defender Alex scored from a close-range rebound in the 27th minute.
Anelka, who had hit just six goals in 25 Premier League appearances since joining Chelsea in January, made it 2-0 three minutes later when he touched in Alex's goal-bound shot. The France striker scored again in the 45th from a pass by Florent Malouda and Sunderland's problems were compounded when manager Roy Keane was sent to the stands at halftime for protesting against Anelka's first goal.
Lampard made it 4-0 with a header six minutes into the second half, notching his 99th goal in the Premier League, and Anelka completed his first hat trick in England since September 2003 with a 53rd-minute finish from Malouda's low cross. Lampard also scored once in League One playing for Swansea in the 1995-96 season.
Arsenal was seeking victory at lowly Stoke to rally from the disappointment of Wednesday's 4-4 draw with fierce rival Tottenham, but ended up losing third place to the defending champions. Its third loss in 11 games means its has as many defeats as it did in the whole of last season.
Stoke took a 11th-minute lead when Ricardo Fuller hit his fifth goal of the season from a long throw by Rory Delap, while Seyi Olofinjana made it 2-0 in the 73rd.
Arsenal got an injury-time goal from Gael Clichy but a miserable day already looked assured when substitute Robin Van Persie was sent off for elbowing goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and winger Theo Walcott was carried from the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury.
That meant Manchester United moved up three places after surviving a late comeback from Hull to move above the Tigers in the standings.
Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic added to Cristiano Ronaldo's two goals to put United 4-1 ahead before Bernard Mendy and Geovanni scored for Hull to make it close.
Also yesterday, Everton improved upon the worst home record in England's 92-team professional league when Louis Saha scored with three minutes to give Everton a 1-0 win over Fulham and its first home victory of the season.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard had a fluke goal ruled out because of a foul by a teammate and Fulham twice hit the frame before Saha headed a cross by Leon Osman to score his first goal for the club.
Howard's chance came when he hit a huge kick up field and watched it bounce into the opposite goal. But the referee ruled out the effort because Everton striker Yakubu Ayegbeni had knocked goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to the ground.
West Ham drew 1-1 at Middlesbrough, Blackburn drew 2-2 at West Bromwich Albion, and Wigan won 2-1 at Portsmouth.