Manchester City’s hopes of retaining their Premier League title received a potentially fatal blow after they were beaten 3-1 at Southampton on Saturday.
Goals from Jason Puncheon, Steve Davis and a Gareth Barry own goal sealed City’s fate, leaving them nine points behind leaders Manchester United with 12 games remaining.
Southampton was 2-0 up within 22 minutes through Puncheon and Davis and though Edin Dezko pulled one back, an own goal from Barry just after half-time finished off City’s hopes.
Queens Park Rangers’ hopes of survival suffered another blow on Saturday as they were beaten 4-1 at Swansea City.
Two goals from Michu and one each from Angel Rangel and Pablo Hernandez gave Swansea victory, moving them to seventh and leaving QPR bottom and six points away from safety with 12 games to go.
Chelsea stayed ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal in the race for third place as they beat Wigan 4-1 through goals by Ramires, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard and Marko Marin.
“We deserved to win,” manager Rafeal Benitez said. “To win is something you have to do. Top sides, if you want to win something, you have to be consistent winning. It’s normal.
“But it’s not the end of the world if you draw a game you deserve to win. The problem for me would be if we don’t create chances; we create chances every game.
“We score goals. We’re making some mistakes, but we have a lot of positives. Today four goals could be six goals at the end.”
Gareth Bale scored both goals as Tottenham stayed one point behind Chelsea in fourth thanks to a 2-1 win over Newcastle.
The Wales midfielder put Spurs in front with a brilliant free kick after just five minutes but Newcastle equalized 20 minutes later through Yoan Gouffran.
Gouffran then had to go off with a nasty shin injury and Bale won it for Tottenham with a cool finish 12 minutes from time.
“It was a great individual performance and it was outstanding to see a player enjoying his football,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas Boas said of Bale.
Arsenal survived the sending off of Carl Jenkinson half an hour from time to win 1-0 at Sunderland, Santi Cazorla getting the goal 10 minutes before half-time to keep them within four points of Spurs.
An injury to Jack Wilshere slightly tempered Arsenal’s joy but manager Arsene Wenger said he expected the midfielder to recover quickly.
Stoke City beat Reading 2-1 to climb to 10th place while Norwich City and Fulham drew 0-0 in the other match.