Chelsea and Manchester City drew 1-1 in their top-of-the-table Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, leaving Jose Mourinho’s team five points clear of City but with the champions still believing they can retain their title.
Chelsea’s run of 10 straight home league wins came to an end when David Silva cancelled out Loic Remy’s opener just before half-time. There were no further goals, and very few on-target attempts in the second half which City edged in terms of possession.
Chelsea had lost 4-2 at home in the FA Cup last Saturday to third tier Bradford City but bounced back with a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final on Tuesday.
City, also beaten at home last week in the FA Cup by lower league opponents Middlesbrough, were still too tough an obstacle and Chelsea only managed three shots, their lowest total in a game since 2003-04.
The result left Chelsea top on 53 points, five ahead of City on 48 with Manchester United, 3-1 winners over Leicester City at Old Trafford, third on 43.
Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool maintained their challenges for a top four finish with Spurs winning 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion to move up to fifth on 40.
Liverpool are seventh on 38 after beating West Ham United 2-0 at Anfield where Daniel Sturridge scored on his return after five months out with various injuries.
If Chelsea had beaten City they would have opened up an eight point gap with 15 matches to play but midfielder Nemanja Matic told Sky Sports they were not too disappointed.
“We expected three points from today but a draw is a good result for both teams. We both had some chances but we are still five points ahead and we are happy with that.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini thought his men should have won.
“We played a very good game. One team wanted to play from the beginning. The only chance Chelsea got they scored a beautiful goal. In the second half Chelsea defended very well, but I am very proud about our team – to have the personality to come here and try to win from first minute to end.”
There was a memorable moment 14 minutes from time when Frank Lampard, who played nearly 650 times for Chelsea over 13 years and is their all-time leading scorer, came on for City to a mainly warm reception from his former fans.
In September at the Etihad he came on and scored City’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw, but that didn’t happen again as the game petered out.
“It was a bit of a strange day to be honest,” Lampard told Sky Sports.
“But I enjoyed it. The result changes nothing but I was pleased to have an ovation at the end and share that with the Chelsea fans because I didn’t get that at the back end of last year.”
Earlier, England striker Sturridge celebrated his return after his long lay-off when he came off the bench to score Liverpool’s second goal.
Sturridge, who last played on Aug.31, came on in the 68th minute and found the net 12 minutes later to seal the points for Liverpool who went ahead through Raheem Sterling six minutes into the second half.
Manchester United avenged their shock 5-3 defeat at Leicester City in September when they crushed Nigel Pearson’s bottom-of-the-table side to maintain their challenge for a Champions League place.
Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and an own goal by Wes Morgan before halftime put United in command against Leicester who replied with a consolation from Marcin Wasilewski 10 minutes from the end.
Spurs also maintained their push for a Champions League spot, racing into a 2-0 lead in 15 minutes at The Hawthorns thanks to goals from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane.
Kane then added the third with a second-half penalty, his 20th goal of the season.
The only winners among the bottom eight clubs were Sunderland, who beat Burnley 2-0 thanks to goals from Connor Wickham and Jermain Defoe, who scored his first goal for his new club after 34 minutes.