Manchester United, Chelsea Fall as Premier League Title Race Is Shaken Up

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Score two for the little guys. And score one more big point for what's becoming a fascinating title race.

The top of the English Premier League table sustained a pair of tremors Saturday as both Manchester United and Chelsea lost away matches to less highly regarded opposition. Chelsea fell 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion, the league's surprise package, before United went down 1-0 at Norwich.

And with that, the league has a new leader. With their easy 5-0 home win over Aston Villa, defending champions Manchester City moved to the top of the table for the first time this season. City remain the league's only unbeaten team.

Chelsea led the table for eight straight weeks earlier this season before falling to third last week. Saturday presented a chance for Roberto Di Matteo's team to stop a winless run that now stretches to four matches.

But West Brom's Peter Odemwingie scored the winner in the 50th minute (video here) after Eden Hazard (39') had equalized Shane Long's 10th-minute opener.

The win sent the Baggies up to fourth place, and after the match manager Steve Clarke played down the chance that his team could qualify for next season's Champions League via their league finish.

Per PremierLeague.com:

Can we think of the Champions League? I don't look that far ahead, I look from game to game. It is a great time to be at the club and if the supporters want to dream a bit, they can. But within the camp, we will keep our feet on the ground.

That must be an issue for Norwich as well after the Canaries claimed a second win over big-name opposition in recent weeks. First-year manager Chris Hughton's team defeated Arsenal—Norwich's first victory of the season—at home on Oct. 20 before Saturday's 1-0 home win over United.

Anthony Pilkington scored the game's only goal with a looping header in the 60th minute (video above). The Canaries have not lost in their last five matches, a stretch that has taken them out of the relegation zone in 19th place all the way up to 13th.

Afterward, Hughton called the victory Norwich's best of the season. From PremierLeague.com:

It is (Norwich’s best win of the season), simply because it is Manchester United. They tested us more than anybody we have played against and were resilient enough. I suppose with the run we are on, the confidence we have from that we were able to show. It is certainly a wonderful achievement.

All is not lost for Chelsea and United, of course.

Chelsea, now in third place, four points off the pace, host leaders Manchester City next weekend.

United, who are second with 27 points, have lost three matches already this season but have a manageable stretch ahead with matches against QPR, West Ham and Reading before a trip to City in December.

Take a good look at today's table. By that time, the top of the table could look completely different.

 

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