Manchester City's hopes of retaining their Premier League title were in tatters yesterday as a shock 3-1 defeat at Southampton left manager Roberto Mancini to virtually concede the championship.
Mancini's side needed a victory at St Mary's to keep the pressure on leaders Manchester United, but instead they slumped to their third league defeat of the season.
Jason Puncheon and Steven Davis put Saints 2-0 ahead by the 22nd minute and, although Edin Dzeko got one back before the break, a Gareth Barry own goal early in the second half sealed City's fate.
Mancini's second-placed team have now gone three league games without a win and remain nine points behind United. "I think we now have a 10 per cent chance of winning the title. I don't think United will drop 12 points," said Mancini. "It was a really poor performance."
While City slumped, Chelsea got back on track after their recent poor run. The third-placed Blues beat struggling Wigan 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Ramires fired home in the 23rd minute and Eden Hazard doubled Chelsea's lead in the 56th.
Wigan replied through Shaun Maloney two minutes later, but in-form England midfielder Frank Lampard and Marko Marin notched late goals to seal the hosts' victory.
England star Jack Wilshere suffered a worrying thigh injury in 10-man Arsenal's 1-0 victory at Sunderland, while Gareth Bale maintained his sublime form with a brilliant brace to inspire Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Newcastle at White Hart Lane.
Reading's hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a setback with a 2-1 defeat at Stoke.
Leading EPL scorers
18 Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
17 Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
15 Michu (Swansea)
14 Demba Ba (Newcastle/Chelsea)
13 Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
12 Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)