LONDON, December 28 – Leaders Chelsea and second-place Manchester City both succumbed to post-Christmas hangovers on Sunday as they dropped points in the Premier League title race.
Chelsea drew 1-1 at Southampton, presenting City with a chance to close to within a point of the summit, but the champions fluffed their lines by blowing a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at home to second-bottom Burnley.
The results preserved the status quo at the summit, where Chelsea lead City by three points ahead of the New Year’s Day programme.
Chelsea fell behind in the 17th minute at fourth-place Southampton when Dusan Tadic freed Sadio Mane, who coolly headed the ball away from John Terry before lobbing Thibaut Courtois.
Eden Hazard equalised in first-half injury time, scampering onto Cesc Fabregas’s pass down the left wing and cutting inside two defenders before firing home with his right foot.
But despite sending on Willian, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy in the second half, Jose Mourinho’s side were unable to find a winner, two days on from their classy 2-0 win over West Ham United.
The closest they came was a shot from Hazard that flashed wide, while Fabregas was contentiously booked for diving when he went down in the Southampton box after apparently being caught by 19-year-old Matthew Targett.
Southampton had to see out the closing stages with 10 men after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off for two bookable offences, but they held on for a draw that left them three points below third-place Manchester United
Chelsea manager Mourinho complained that his players were being unfairly treated by referees following a recent spate of diving accusations.
“The reality is there are penalties and penalties — this one was a huge one,” he told Sky Sports.
“Match after match, coaches are saying Chelsea players are diving. I will go to the referee and wish him a good year and tell him he will be ashamed.”
At the Etihad Stadium, David Silva put City ahead in the 23rd minute and Samir Nasri teed up Fernandinho to crash home a stunning second goal from the edge of the box 10 minutes later.
But Burnley replied through George Boyd early in the second half, the Scottish forward tapping in a cross from Danny Ings, before Ashley Barnes slammed in an equaliser from 15 yards with nine minutes to play.
-Lloris thwarts United –
Manchester United had earlier squandered an opportunity to put pressure on the top two after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Louis van Gaal’s side created a string of chances, with Juan Mata hitting the woodwork and Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris producing a number of excellent saves, but had to settle for a point.
The draw extended United’s unbeaten run to nine games, but left them 10 points below Chelsea and seven behind City, while Tottenham finished the day five points further back in seventh place.
“We lost two points I think,” United manager Van Gaal told BT Sport.
“We had the best performance of Manchester United this season in the first half. We could have scored four or five goals and we didn’t reward ourselves.”
With United, Spurs and Southampton dropping points, Arsenal capitalised by leapfrogging West Ham into fifth place with a 2-1 victory at Upton Park.
Santi Cazorla put Arsenal in front with a 41st-minute penalty and three minutes later Danny Welbeck prodded in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross to make it 2-0.
Cheikhou Kouyate headed in for West Ham early in the second half, but Arsene Wenger’s side survived a late onslaught to record a win that took them level on points with Southampton.
Liverpool now trail the top four by eight points ahead of their home game with Swansea City on Monday.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace began life without sacked manager Neil Warnock by drawing 0-0 at Queens Park Rangers, which kept the Selhurst Park club in the bottom three.
Bottom team Leicester City gave their chances of avoiding relegation a shot in the arm by winning 1-0 at Hull City, with Riyad Mahrez’s 32nd-minute strike leaving his side three points from safety
Late red cards for Leicester’s Paul Konchesky and Hull’s Stephen Quinn meant that both sides finished the game with 10 men.
Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf scored twice as Stoke City beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0, while Fabian Delph was sent off as Aston Villa drew 0-0 at home to Sunderland.
The day’s late game sees Everton visit Newcastle United.