Pedro Rodriguez scored twice as red-hot Premier League leaders Chelsea crushed Bournemouth 3-0 on Monday to register a club-record 12th consecutive league victory.
Pedro struck either side of Eden Hazard’s 50th English league goal at Stamford Bridge to give Antonio Conte’s side a provisional seven-point lead at the summit following the Boxing Day action.
“To win 12 games in a row is not easy in this league,” Chelsea manager Conte told the BBC.
“It’s a fantastic run, but it’s important to continue that now. In four days we have another tough game (against Stoke City) and we have to prepare very well. Because now, every team wants to beat you.”
With Liverpool not in action until Tuesday, when they host Stoke, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City stole past them into second place by winning 3-0 at bottom club Hull City.
Olivier Giroud prevented Arsenal losing more ground, his 86th-minute header snatching a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion to keep Arsene Wenger’s side in fourth place, nine points off the pace.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one goal and set up two more as Manchester United drew level with fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur by beating Sunderland 3-1, while champions Leicester City lost again.
Chelsea’s victory, which came in the absence of suspended duo Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante, left them one win short of Arsenal’s 2002 record of 13 successive victories within the same top-flight season.
Pedro broke the deadlock in the 24th minute, curling a left-foot shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Hazard made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half, rolling a penalty into the bottom-right corner after he had drawn a foul from Simon Francis, with Pedro adding a deflected shot in stoppage time.
City lost the recalled John Stones to an early injury and were made to sweat before three second-half goals secured victory at Hull.
Yaya Toure scored a 72nd-minute penalty after Andrew Robertson fouled Raheem Sterling, with a Kelechi Iheanacho tap-in and a Curtis Davies own goal completing the win.
“There is always pressure for us because the top of the league is tough and the other teams at the top had won today,” said Guardiola.
“Every game we play is like a final.”
Beaten 2-1 by Everton and then City on their two previous outings, Arsenal narrowly avoided going three league games without winning for the first time since January 2012.