LONDON (AFP) – Leaders Chelsea and second-place Manchester City both succumbed to post-Christmas hangovers on Sunday as the two pace-setters dropped points in the Premier League title race.
Chelsea drew 1-1 at Southampton, which presented 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 top, 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’ pass down the left wing and cutting inside two defenders before firing home with his right foot.
But despite Southampton losing Morgan Schneiderlin for two bookable offences in the closing stages, 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.
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.
“It was a big opportunity to get two more points. Everybody would think the game was over, but I always say it is never over until the last minute,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“We have 43 points. We have the second half of the season to decide who is the best team.”
Burnley are now in the bottom three on goal difference alone.
Third-place Manchester United had earlier squandered an opportunity to put pressure on the top two after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
Louis van Gaal’s side created a string of chances, with Juan Mata hitting the post 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 the teams above them 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 low 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, Everton slumped to a third straight defeat, losing 3-2 at Newcastle United, who prevailed through goals from Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback.