They put in an impressive defensive display to beat leaders Liverpool at Anfield (it was the home side’s first defeat in the league since December which was also against Chelsea) and move within two points of the Reds – throwing themselves a lifeline and denting Liverpool’s hopes of a first title in 24 years.
Chelsea can still win the league but would need both Liverpool and Man City to slip up in their remaining games. That seem unlikely according to the Portuguese master tactician who says his side “have no chance” of a first title since 2010.
The Londoners won the match two-nil thanks to goals from Demba Ba, following a Gerrard blunder, and Brazilian William (oh, and the big bus they parked in front of goal).
Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City beat Crystal Palace two-nil (goals from Dzeko and Toure) to go within a point of Chelsea and three of Liverpool, having played a game less – and they are now strong favorites to lift the title.
A superior goal difference for the Manchester side means that if they win all their remaining games – against Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham – they’ll win the league, regardless of what the other sides do (barring huge wins for Liverpool in both their games).
Liverpool’s remaining matches will see them face Crystal Palace and Newcastle and if they win both, they’ll now need Manchester City to drop points to stand a realistic chance of glory, while Chelsea face relegation-threatened Cardiff and Norwich – and have their Champions League semi-final second leg on Wednesday against Atletico Madrid.
Last year’s champions Manchester United, who find themselves way down in seventh, have had quite the week, sacking David Moyes and installing Ryan Giggs as caretaker. Some fans are already suggesting he should get the job full time after overseeing an impressive four-nil win against lowly Norwich, which has seen the Canaries drop into the bottom three, with Sunderland thrashing fellow relegation strugglers Cardiff.
Fulham blew a golden opportunity to move out of the bottom three after drawing 2-2 with Hull despite being two-nil up.
The weekend of several firsts also saw Pep Mel get his first home win in charge of West Brom and significantly boost their chances of survival.
Arsenal play Newcastle on Monday night and a win will put them in the driving seat for automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League. Newcastle have been awful in 2014, with question marks over the future of manager Alan Pardew (and star Hatem Ben Arfa who has been omitted from the squad), so it’s an interesting game in prospect.
Expect a few more twists this season.
Sunderland 4-0 Cardiff
Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
Crystal Palace 0-2 Man City
Southampton 2-0 Everton
Fulham 2-2 Hull
Stoke 0-1 Tottenham
Swansea 4-1 Aston Villa
West Brom 1-0 West Ham
Man Utd 4-0 Norwich