Chelsea, City held, Arsenal win
Chelsea retained their three-point lead at the mid-point of the English Premier League season yesterday despite being held to a draw by Southampton, thanks to Manchester City collapsing against struggling Burnley.
After Eden Hazard recovered a 1-1 draw for Chelsea at fourth-place Southampton, defending champions City threw away a 2-0 lead at home to draw 2-2 with 19th-placed Burnley.
On a day when 18 of the 20 teams were in action less than 48 hours after playing on Friday in this traditionally packed Christmas fixture programme, the top four all drew.
Manchester United missed an opportunity to make ground on the pacesetters, remaining seven points behind City in third place after being held 0-0 at Tottenham.
But Arsenal dislodged West Ham from fifth place by winning their London derby 2-1 after Santi Cazorla earned and converted a penalty and Danny Welbeck scored the second.
At the other end of the standings, Leicester remain bottom, but raised their hopes of survival by beating Hull 1-0 for their first victory since September.
Hull are only out of the relegation zone due to their superior goal difference over Crystal Palace, which drew 0-0 with fellow struggler Queens Park Rangers.
The most goals of the day came in a clash of mid-table teams at St James' Park, with Jack Colback scoring his first Newcastle goal to clinch a 3-2 win over Everton.
The remaining fixture from round 19 is today when Liverpool host Swansea. Unlike last season, Liverpool are out of the title race as they sit in 10th place.
A big surprise looked possible at Southampton when Chelsea conceded in the 17th minute as Sadio Mane raced on to a pass from Dusan Tadic and lifted the ball over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Southampton's defensive lapse
But Southampton were punished for a defensive lapse just before half-time. Hazard ran on to a pass from Cesc Fabregas, cut inside a defender and shot across goal and into the far corner. It was Fabregas' 13th assist of the season, equalling the league-leading total by Steven Gerrard in 2013-14.
Even the dismissal of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin in the 89th for a second booking couldn't prevent another memorable result in this unexpected campaign for the south-coast team.
"Southampton defended with everything and they defended a lot," Chelsea manager JosÈ Mourinho said. "We tried everything and we dominated, we created a lot."
Unlike Chelsea, City did score twice - but conceded as many.
David Silva scored his fourth goal in three appearances after being set up by Jesus Navas midway through the first half and Fernandinho curled in a shot off the underside of the crossbar before half-time.
But George Boyd began Burnley's comeback two minutes after the break when he converted Danny Ings' shot across the face of goal. And Ashley Barnes grabbed the equaliser in the 81st minute by reacting quickest to connect with the ball in a crowded penalty area.
In east London, Arsenal did manage to hold on to their lead.
Cazorla was tripped in the area and converted the penalty in the 41st to put Arsenal ahead. Danny Welbeck doubled the lead three minutes later after a pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Although Cheikhou Kouyate pulled one back for West Ham with a header at the start of the second half, Arsenal held on for their second 2-1 win in three days to nudge close to the top four.
"We look to be more stable," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "We have a big game in front of us now against Southampton (on Thursday)."