Chelsea FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa FC as they failed to win a Premiership match for only the fourth time this season. But any hopes their rivals had of closing the gap at the summit were spoiled as Liverpool FC were held and Manchester United FC lost 4-3 at Blackburn Rovers FC.
David Bentley was the hero at Ewood Park as he scored a hat-trick to leave the home side with a 4-1 advantage before the hour mark. The former Arsenal FC forward scored two goals in six minutes towards the end of the first half, either side of a Louis Saha equaliser, before Lucas Neill made it 3-1 from the penalty spot. Bentley then completed his three-goal salvo before United came storming back with Ruud van Nistelrooij twice finding the net by the 69th minute.
But Blackburn hung on and Sir Alex Ferguson's side’s chances ended with the late dismissal of Rio Ferdinand. There was also a red card at Anfield where Damien Johnson was sent off just after the hour mark, and Liverpool quickly took the lead through Steven Gerrard. Recent signing Robbie Fowler then came on for Liverpool, but his homecoming was spoilt in the 88th minute by a Xabi Alonso own goal as the match ended 1-1.
Chelsea could therefore have extended their Premiership lead but Villa Park holds something of a hoodoo for José Mourinho's team. They have not won a Premiership match there since 1999, although they looked on course to do so when Dutch winger Arjen Robben broke the deadlock after 14 minutes. The visitors were then put firmly on the back foot for much of the second half and the pressure eventually told when Luke Moore converted Mark Delaney's cross with 13 minutes remaining.
Arsenal FC were unable to arrest their slide as they slumped to a third defeat in eleven days against West Ham United FC at Highbury. Nigel Reo-Coker, Bobby Zamora and Matthew Etherington were all on target for the visitors as goals from Thierry Henry and Robert Pirès proved in vain. Manchester City FC also hit three in a 3-0 victory against Newcastle United FC, while Portsmouth FC and Bolton Wanderers FC drew 1-1.
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