London: Chelsea reclaimed the English Premier League title in style on Sunday, a 8-0 win over Wigan ensuring they pipped Manchester United by a single point after racking up a record haul of 103 goals.
As well as denying United what would have been an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, the stunning display ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s first season in charge ends with the league trophy back in west London for the first time since Jose Mourinho masterminded back-to-back triumphs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
The defending champions did their job by beating Stoke 4-0 at Old Trafford but there was never any prospect of Chelsea falling at the final hurdle.
Against injury-depleted opponents, it took Nicolas Anelka only five minutes to calm the Chelsea supporters’ nerves with the opener and any doubt over the destiny of the trophy disappeared just after the half hour mark when Gary Caldwell wrestled Frank Lampard to the ground inside the box.
The Scotland defender was given his marching orders and Lampard got up to fire in a textbook penalty for his 22nd league goal of the season.
Didier Drogba got involved in an unseemly spat with Lampard over who was taking that penalty but still finished the afternoon with a hat-trick, which ensures he takes the EPL’s golden boot with a total of 29 league goals.
Anelka ended up with a double and Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole also got in on the act as Chelsea ran up their biggest ever victory in the top flight.
The only other outstanding issue was resolved in Arsenal’s favour. A 4-0 win over Fulham ensured Arsene Wenger’s men clinched third place, ensuring another money-spinning season of Champions League football at the Emirates.
The Gunners enter directly at the group stage while Tottenham’s fourth place means they must come through a final qualifier to fully benefit from their elevation to a place among Europe’s elite.
Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Carlos Vela were on target for Arsenal, who also benefited from an own goal by Chris Baird against opponents who clearly had one eye on Wednesday’s Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford was distinctly subdued as news from west London filtered through but United still performed effectively, with goals from Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung and an own goal by Danny Higginbotham delivering a convincing win.
A memorable season for Spurs ended with a weary wimper, Harry Redknapp’s side conceding a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at relegated Burnley. Gareth Bale and Luka Modric had put them in the driving seat but Wade Elliot, Jack Cork, Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson turned the match around in unlikely fashion.
A deeply frustrating season for Liverpool ended with a goalless draw at Hull that ensured Rafael Benitez’s side could finish no better than seventh in the table.
Above them, in fifth place, are Manchester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw at West Ham, and Aston Villa, who held on to sixth place despite a late Richard Dunne own goal resulting in a 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn.
Those results mean Liverpool will have to come through a final qualifier as well as the play-off round to get into the group stages of next season’s Europa League.
Everton finished their campaign with a 1-0 win over FA Cup finalists Portsmouth that was secured by Dinyar Bilyaletdinov’s 90th-minute strike.
Birmingham went down to a 2-1 defeat at Bolton but Alex McLeish’s side -- tipped as favourites for relegation at the start of the season -- still ended the campaign in a creditable ninth place, while Wolves edged their meeting with Sunderland 2-1.