Chelsea cut gap to leaders; Arsenal slip up
(dpa) - Chelsea moved to within two points of leaders Manchester United on Saturday while Arsenal suffered a huge blow to their hopes as they slipped up with a draw against Liverpool.
A Richard Dunne own goal and a Salamon Kalou strike gave Chelsea a 2-0 win at Manchester City, but Arsenal could only draw 1-1 with Liverpool - for the second time in four days.
Chelsea are now just two points behind Manchester United, who play at Middlesbrough on Sunday, while Arsenal are five points behind in third.
It took Chelsea just eight minutes to take the lead at the City of Manchester Stadium but it needed a huge slice of luck as Nicolas Anelka's cross was put into his own net by Dunne.
City had some chances to equalize but Chelsea doubled their lead early in the second half when the luckless Dunne deflected a pass into the path of Kalou, who rounded the goalkeeper for the second.
"We knew it would not be easy and it wasn't," Chelsea manager Avram Grant said.
"But we won and we played well, especially in the second half, so we are very happy with how things went.
"We started very well and created a lot of chances but City came back into the game in the first half. We had to keep our concentration and we did that."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side face an uphill battle in the league after their 1-1 draw with Liverpool - again - left them in third.
Peter Crouch put a much-changed Liverpool side ahead just before half-time with a fine shot from just outside the area, but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a header early in the second half.
Arsenal chased the win for the rest of the match but failed to create too many clear-cut chances and Liverpool held on for a draw to move them six points clear of Everton in the race for fourth.
"With our situation in the table, of course the victory was needed but you never know, we have to hope for the best and hopefully we will not be too far behind on Monday," Wenger said.
"We are disappointed. We gave absolutely everything to come back and we dominated the whole second half, and I thought we had a penalty again (for a possible foul on Cesc Fabregas), not given.
"There were chances we didn't take and Liverpool were always dangerous on the counter-attack."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised his team for their hard work.
"For both teams, today was important, for us to be closer to the top four and for Arsenal to be in the race for the title. The pressure was the same for both teams," he said.
"We had to work hard and scored a great goal. The workrate was good from a lot of players who normally do not play. They all did well.
"We could have won because we had the chances, but then again we could also have lost as they had chances as well."
At the bottom of the table, it is a case of as you were, with Fulham, Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City all losing.
Fulham, second-from-bottom and seven points away from safety, were humbled 3-1 at home by Sunderland, who now look safe.
Bolton, who started the day just two points better off in the third-from-bottom position, were crushed 4-0 at Aston Villa, while Birminham remain in trouble - four points ahead of Bolton - after they lost 2-0 at Wigan, who are now looking safe.
Reading slipped to fifth-from-bottom on 32 points - only two above Birmingham - after they lost 3-0 at Newcastle United, thanks to goals from Obafemi Martins, Michael Owen and Mark Viduka.
Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur in the day's other game.