Manchester City are the new favourites to win the Premier League after Chelsea halted Arsenal's charge to the title Sunday. The champions defeated the Gunners, 1-0, at the Emirates Stadium, as Arsenal's Per Mertesacker saw red.
The German defender was sent off in the 18th minute for a foul on Chelsea forward Diego Costa, with the Spain international bursting through as the last man.
Arsenal end the weekend three points off new league leaders Leicester City, falling to third behind Manchester City. Manager Arsene Wenger's side are now only two points above Tottenham Hotspur, as the shape of the title race once again dramatically changes.
In Sunday's early match, Swansea City scored a famous away win at Everton, beating the Toffees, 2-1, at Goodison Park. A deflected effort from forward Andre Ayew was enough to give the Swans maximum points in new coach Francesco Guidolin's first game.
Here are the latest results and standings in the Premier League, including the current odds to win the title:
|Date||Home Club||Away Club||Result|
|Jan. 23||Crystal Palace||Tottenham||1-3|
|Jan. 23||Manchester United||Southampton||0-1|
|Jan. 23||West Brom||Aston Villa||0-0|
|Jan. 23||West Ham||Manchester City||2-2|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||23||7||7||9||22||30||-8||28|
Wenger will rue his team's performance against Chelsea on Sunday, throwing away their chance to once again regain control at the top of the division.
It was a match they were clear favourites to win as the champions continue their battle in the bottom-half of the table with just 28 points, but Chelsea turned the screw early in the contest.
The sending off of Mertesacker shaped the destiny of the points on offer, as the German clumsily brought down Costa early in the game.
The Spaniard made sure the defender's slight contact was seen by referee Mark Clattenburg, tumbling to the floor in a dramatic fashion, but the red was fully deserved with the striker as the last man.
Sky Sports Statto shared the moment:
Per Mertesacker's red card is the 12th in 48 PL games between the sides. It's the German's 2nd red card for Arsenal pic.twitter.com/ivQy4ECYO1— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 24, 2016
Wenger quickly reorganised his troops, taking off striker Olivier Giroud to balance the books. However, Chelsea took only five minutes to exploit their advantage as Costa swept away a sumptuous cross from defender Branislav Ivanovic to claim the only goal of the match.
The hosts came on strong in the second half, desperately trying to force a draw to aid their title challenge, but the Blues were composed as they snuffed out the Gunners' best work.
The last 10 minutes were a frantic affair as Arsenal poured forward. The ball pinged around the Chelsea box with ferocity in the closing stages, but the Blues earned a well-deserved victory.
Arsenal fans might have felt their team deserved a share of the spoils, but they gave the match away far too early in the day and Chelsea did an excellent job of exposing their opponent.
Despite the defeat, golfer and Arsenal fan Ian Poulter still feels the Gunners are in strong shape to win the league:
I have faith. Why couldn't we have played 77 minutes with 11 men instead of 10. No guarantee Costa would have scored https://t.co/DoXzJbkYwM— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) January 24, 2016
In Sunday's other match, Swansea caused a shock on Merseyside, as Everton's inconsistent form continues to ruin their hopes of a European finish in the league.
A poor back-pass from Everton defender John Stones—delaying his return to goalkeeper Tim Howard for no reason—allowed Ayew to pinch the ball. Howard's challenge was late as the two players collided, with the attacker being clearly tripped as contact was made in the area.
Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson made no mistake from the spot to give the Swans the lead after 17 minutes, but their advantage was quickly overturned by the Toffees.
Everton midfielder Gareth Barry's deflected effort off Swansea defender Jack Cork found the back of the net nine minutes later, as Everton took control of the game.
However, the south Wales team once again regained the lead as Ayew was the hero of the hour. The forward's deflected strike flew past Howard, sealing the much-needed win for Swansea.
Will Arsenal win the league this season?
It was a hugely disappointing day for Arsenal fans, but Sunday offered some much-needed solace for Chelsea supporters—who are reliving nightmares of a past era when the club regularly battled against relegation.
It is highly unlikely the current Blues side will be in the mix to go down in the coming weeks, but they must now go on a good run to break into the top half.
Chelsea are now only four points behind 10th-place Watford, and their campaign may yet end with credibility if their team of champions can replicate last year's form in the second half of the season.