Chelsea's Eden Hazard, is mobbed by his teammates after scoring his side's second goal against Arsenal.
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, is mobbed by his teammates after scoring his side's second goal against Arsenal. Kirsty Wigglesworth

Blues stay clear after easing past Gunners

FOOTBALL: Chelsea strengthened its grip on the English Premier League title, moving nine points clear at the top following an easy victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were in cruise control as the Gunners' miserable start to 2017 continued.

Antonio Conte's team moved 12 points clear of Arsene Wenger's men with Tottenham moving into second three points ahead of Arsenal, after a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Chelsea's position was enhanced with Liverpool's shock 2-0 defeat at Hull City, which moved off the bottom following the victory.

The Reds are now 13 points off the top in fourth place.

Chelsea's easy victory was highlighted by a superb individual goal from Eden Hazard, who beat a number of soft challenges in a run which started on the halfway line, before stroking the ball home.

Conte was a satisfied man as he watched Chelsea avenge their worst defeat of the season a 3-0 loss at the Emirates in September.

Chelsea scored early through a Marcos Alonso header after Diego Costa had hit the bar and then came Hazard's cracker.

Cesc Fabregas scored a third after Petr Cech's poor clearance and while Olivier Giroud's late header narrowed the gap, a fourth defeat in nine league matches effectively ended Arsenal's title hopes for another season.

"It was an important game," Contes said.

"I consider Arsenal one of the six teams that can fight for the title until the end of the season.

"To put them 12 points behind is very important for us.

"In every session they show me great attitude and great will to fight and win this league."

Liverpool's defeat has all-but ended its challenge too.

Jurgen Klopp was a frustrated man as goals from Hull's on-loan Senegalese strikers, Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse got the Tigers home.

The Reds have won just once in their last 10 games.

Tottenham, meanwhile, remains in the hunt, stretching its unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions.

Harry Kane sealed the points against relegation-threatened Middlesbrough with a penalty in a 1-0 success at White Hart Lane.

At the bottom, Sam Allardyce was at a loss to explain his team's performance as Crystal Palace conceded four first-half goals to fellow struggler Sunderland to lose 4-0 at Selhurst Park.

Jermain Defoe scored twice in first-half stoppage time with Allardyce's new club conceding three goals in six minutes just before the break against his old team.

Sunderland remains bottom on 19 points but is only behind Palace on goal difference.

Everton, unbeaten in the league since Christmas, kept up its good form with Romelu Lukaku scoring four in a roller-coaster 6-3 win over Bournemouth.

West Brom won 1-0 at home to Stoke, while Watford defeated Burnley 2-1 at Vicarage Road.