Arsenal FC moved a step closer to claiming the Premiership title without playing today as second-placed Chelsea FC were defeated 3-2 at Aston Villa FC.
The leaders had picked up four points in their two Easter fixtures, and Chelsea - already held by Middlesbrough FC on Saturday - are now seven adrift having played a game more.
Chelsea lose lead
It had begun well for Chelsea when Hernán Crespo gave them an eleventh-minute lead after Adrian Mutu had hit the post, but seven minutes before the break Mario Melchiot pushed Gareth Barry in the box and Darius Vassell levelled from the penalty spot. Villa then moved away in the first seven minutes of the second half as Thomas Hitzlsperger and Lee Hendrie both scored, although Crespo did claim a late consolation.
Villa are now up to sixth in the race for fourth place and a berth in next season's UEFA Champions League. Liverpool FC suffered a setback as they lost 1-0 at home to Charlton Athletic FC. Shaun Bartlett's header gave Charlton their first win at Anfield in 50 years and lifted them to within two points of Liverpool, still holding a top-four place ahead of Newcastle United FC on goals scored.
Charlton are seventh, a place behind Villa, but now ahead of Birmingham City FC following their 3-1 defeat at Portsmouth FC. Just before half-time Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor was dismissed for handball outside his area and Dejan Stefanovic converted the resultant free-kick.
Lomana LuaLua doubled the lead just after the hour and although Stern John pulled one back, Yakubu Aiyegbeni's penalty made it 3-1 with 17 minutes remaining. Middlesbrough are already in next season's UEFA Cup thanks to their League Cup triumph, but have now climbed to eighth after beating Southampton FC 3-1.
Portsmouth moved three points clear of the relegation zone, at least until Leeds United AFC play Everton FC tomorrow, and are now level on 34 points with Manchester City FC, who drew 1-1 at Tottenham Hotspur FC. Nicolas Anelka gave City a 25th-minute lead but Jermain Defoe equalised early in the second half.
Bottom club Wolverhampton Wanderers FC remain deep in trouble, though, after losing 2-1 at home to Bolton Wanderers FC, Kevin Davies claiming a last-minute winner. Wolves could lose more ground tomorrow if Leicester City FC surprise third-placed Manchester United FC. Monday night's late game saw struggling Blackburn Rovers FC earn a thrilling 4-3 victory at Fulham FC, with Jon Stead's late winner proving decisive.
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