London: The Premier League continued to hurtle towards its closest three-way finish for years on Wednesday as Chelsea thumped Portsmouth 5-0 away to move above Arsenal and back within a point of leaders Manchester United.
The win took the Londoners to 68 points, one behind the champions and level on goal difference. The top two meet at Old Trafford on April 3.
Arsenal are third on 67 and the top three all have seven games left.
Tottenham Hotspur, who reached the FA Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Fulham on Wednesday, remained fourth on 55 after a bad night for two of their challengers for the final Champions League slot.
Manchester City are still two points adrift after losing 2-0 at home to Everton. Goals by Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta continued Everton`s terrific run and inflicted City`s first home defeat of the season.
Liverpool and Aston Villa, held 1-1 at home by Sunderland, both have 51 with Everton hard on their heels on 48.
Chelsea, knocked out of the Champions League by Inter Milan a week ago and held to a Premier League draw by Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, desperately needed to take advantage of their game in hand.
After struggling to subdue the league`s bottom club for half an hour, they were gifted the opening goal when goalkeeper David James did his chances of regaining his England place for the World Cup no good at all when he missed an attempted clearance and allowed Didier Drogba a tap-in.
Florent Malouda then took centre stage as he lashed in the second after 50 minutes and added the third 10 minutes later.
Drogba tucked in the fourth after 77 minutes and Frank Lampard scored the fifth in stoppage time.
"We played well, we were focused for 90 minutes and it was important after a difficult week," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti told Sky Sports News.
"It was a difficult time and this reaction was important."