Chelsea cuts Man United's lead

London: Chelsea cut Manchester United's Premier League lead to six points on Wednesday after a Frank Lampard penalty gave the champion a 1-0 win over struggling Manchester City.

Making the most of its game in hand on the leader, Lampard drove home a 28th minute spot-kick at Eastlands to move Chelsea on to 66 points from 29 games, with United on 72.

It was another blow for City manager Stuart Pearce, whose side has slipped to one place above the relegation zone and who dismissed reports on Tuesday that he faced the sack if City lost to Chelsea and at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Arsenal won 1-0 at Aston Villa in the night's other game to go third with 55 points from 28 games, two points ahead of Liverpool, which has also played a game more.

Arsenal got a fortunate winner when Brazilian striker Julio Baptista fired a shot from outside the area that deflected off French midfielder Abou Diaby and past stranded keeper Thomas Sorensen.

There was little real sparkle from Chelsea, who welcomed back skipper John Terry after the central defender was knocked out in its League Cup triumph over Arsenal.

City overcame an early bout of the jitters, helped by a lack of any real drive or fluency from the champion and looked to be settling in before calamity struck. Chelsea's Ivory Coast forward Salomon Kalou ran into the area from the left flank and was tripped by Micah Richards as he sped past the City right back.

Lampard sent keeper Andreas Isaksson the wrong way with his spot-kick to claim his 20th goal of the season.

The results: English Premier League: Manchester City 0 lost to Chelsea 1 (Lampard-pen); Aston Villa 0 lost to Arsenal 1 (Diaby). Agencies