| Wayne Rooney after one of his two goals, at Old Trafford, on Saturday |
London: Leaders Chelsea suffered a shock 0-1 loss at Crystal Palace on Saturday to leave Manchester City firmly in the driving seat to win the Premier League title as they battled to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in the late kick-off.
Chelsea sank to their first defeat by Palace in 24 years after captain John Terry headed a Joel Ward cross into his own goal early in the second half at Selhurst Park, amid suggestions the ball touched home defender Joe Ledley's hand on the way in.
Rooney scored two first-half goals, one a penalty, to earn seventh-placed Manchester United a welcome win over a spirited Villa and lift the gloom surrounding Moyes’ dismal first term in charge.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea stay top on 69 points but they can be overtaken by Liverpool, a point behind before they play Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with City third on 67 points with two games in hand on the leaders and one on the Merseysiders.
David Silva opened the scoring for City in the 18th minute before Mathieu Flamini equalised soon after the break to earn a point for fourth-placed Arsenal who have 64.
“Now I feel it’s impossible to win the title,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “We depend too much on other results. Two weekends ago we lost three points (to Aston Villa) and now it is too much about other results.”
As Mourinho’s men sank to their first defeat by Palace in 24 years, champions Manchester United ended a week of turmoil with a 4-1 win over Aston Villa, a double by England striker Wayne Rooney easing the pressure on manager David Moyes.
Former European champions Chelsea stay top on 69 points, one ahead of Liverpool who host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Palace’s victory moved them up to 16th place with 31 points, five clear of the relegation zone, and Selhurst Park was rocking at the end of the game with the fans belting out their ‘Glad All Over’ anthem.
Eden Hazard had two opportunities to haul the visitors level but could not find a way past inspired ’keeper Julian Speroni but Palace also had several chances to make the game safe with a series of lively counter attacks.
“It would have been nice to score one to save anxiety,” Pulis said. “Yannick (Bolasie) and Jason (Puncheon) worked their socks off, they give us strength and depth.
“We were threatening and played fantastically well. We have seven games left to get the points we need and it’s going to be tough,” added Pulis.
The Old Trafford crowd, many of whom booed an anti-Moyes banner that was flown over the ground as the match started, had further cause to grumble when Ashley Westwood put Villa a goal up with a 13th-minute free kick.
Rooney headed United level seven minutes later before putting them ahead from the penalty spot just before halftime as he moved into fourth spot in the all-time league scoring charts.
Christian Benteke missed two glorious chances to draw Villa level before Spaniard Juan Mata scored his first goal since his big-money move from Chelsea in January.
Substitute Javier Hernandez rounded off the win in injury time as United moved on to 54 points.
“I’ve been saying all the time I’ve been here, the crowd have been great... because at times we haven’t done as well as we’d like,” said Moyes.
“We didn’t start the game well today once again but I’ve got to say the crowd were brilliant, they were behind the team.”
Goals by England trio Jay Rodriguez (2), Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana helped Southampton rout a toothless Newcastle United 4-0.
A Jonathan de Guzman double and a Wayne Routledge strike helped Swansea beat Norwich 3-0.
In another match, Stoke City’s beat Hull City 1-0 while Cardiff drew 3-3 with West Brom.