Chelsea dropped points for just the third time this season on Saturday evening as they ran to a 0-0 stalemate at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland's eighth draw of the 2014-15 campaign.
Jose Mourinho's Premier League leaders are fortunate enough to be able to afford the stumble and still have a six-point lead at the summit, but that won't leave their manager any more content.
Manchester United continue their rise up the ranks after beating Hull City, while Arsenal, West Ham United, Liverpool and Manchester City each took victories to inspire their hopes of top-four finishes on Matchday 13.
Here's how the standings look after this weekend's:
|2014-15 Premier League Table|
|5||West Ham United||13||6||3||4||21||16||5||21|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||13||3||4||6||13||18||-5||13|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||13||3||2||8||14||25||-11||11|
|Premier League: Matchday 13 Results|
|Nov. 29||West Brom 0-1 Arsenal|
|Nov. 29||Burnley 1-1 Aston Villa|
|Nov. 29||Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City|
|Nov. 29||Man Utd 3-0 Hull City|
|Nov. 29||QPR 3-2 Leicester City|
|Nov. 29||Swansea 1-1 Crystal Palace|
|Nov. 29||West Ham 1-0 West Ham|
|Nov. 29||Sunderland 0-0 Chelsea|
|Nov. 30||Southampton 0-3 Manchester City|
|Nov. 30||Tottenham 2-1 Everton|
Manchester City Teach Southampton a Lesson at St. Mary’s, while Roberto Soldado Breaks His Duck
Sunday’s action saw two mouth-watering ties in prospect, with second taking on third as Southampton welcomed Manchester City to St. Mary’s, before Everton travelled to Tottenham.
In the day’s early kick-off, the champions simply blew Southampton away in a 3-0 victory, but it could so easily have been an afternoon to forget for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Yaya Toure gave City a deserved 1-0 lead on 51 minutes, but defender Eliaquim Mangala was given his marching orders 23 minutes later for a second bookable offence.
That sprung Southampton into life, and were it not an off day for Ronald Koeman’s side, they could have been coming away from the match with at least a point against the 10 men of City.
As it was, though, late goals from Frank Lampard and Gael Clichy put the result beyond doubt, leaving Gary Lineker to enter into a bit of pondering:
The victory saw City leapfrog their opponents and move into second place, six points back of the seemingly unbeatable Chelsea heading into Matchday 14.
However, Pellegrini himself believes that his players have the ability to catch the runaway leaders, having praised their spirit in a post-match interview with BBC Sport:
We can complain about a lot of things from this team this year. But the only thing we cannot complain about in the squad is the spirit, the personality, the character and the ambition to continue winning. We have to play 25 games more. It is a lot of points and nobody knows what will happen in the future.
As for Southampton, their first test on a run of tricky fixtures was a miserable failure.
The Saints have been fantastic to watch at times this season, but they never got going against City, whose class shone through from first whistle to last.
Koeman’s men will now travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal on Wednesday, and unless they drastically step up their performance level, will come away empty-handed.
Everton’s showdown with Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday’s late kick-off was a clash of the great underachievers this season.
Both sides are blessed with heaps of talent and the necessary managerial prowess behind them, but it’s safe to say that neither side have had a big impact on the Premier League as of yet.
However, when Kevin Mirallas gave Everton the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, it looked as though the Toffees’ fortunes were about to change.
Just six minutes later, though, Cristian Eriksen brought Spurs back on level terms with a cheeky finish after Harry Kane saw his shot parried by Tim Howard.
Then came the decisive moment of the match, as Roberto Soldado notched his first Premier League goal since March on the stroke of half time to hand Spurs all three points in a 2-1 victory.
The Spaniard has come under intense scrutiny for his lack of goal scoring in his Spurs career so far, and you could see the weight lift from his shoulders as he found the back of the net—something that Sky Sports’ Lyall Thomas commented on:
Being the match-winner will undoubtedly lift Soldado’s confidence, and although he’ll be up against the rock-solid back four of Chelsea’s next week, belief goes a long way in front of goal.
The win lifts Spurs into seventh, level on points with Arsenal and just two points adrift of the top four, while Everton still sit in 10th with plenty of points to prove.
Manchester United at Their Best in Tigers Mauling
Louis van Gaal's men surged back into the top four and now sit just two points away from Manchester City after battering Hull City 3-0 on Saturday.
The 2-1 win away at Arsenal last weekend was satisfactory, but against an opponent threatened by relegation, United were ruthless this time around, as shown by Squawka:
In arguably Manchester United's most complete performance of the season, Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were all on target for the hosts.
However, Steve Bruce's men are an easy target at present, and with defeat at Old Trafford, last season's FA Cup finalists have now failed to win in six, losing their last four games in a row.
Per Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News, the Tigers chief was sure to lump blame on his own playing staff, who he labelled as more than partly to blame for the result:
Midfield issues have created concern for Van Gaal, but the Dutchman will have found it especially pleasing to see Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera star, but Van Persie shone as the man of the moment.
Given his experience, the United boss won't be getting ahead of himself in light of recent results, but after putting together three wins on the bounce, there's certainly cause for optimism at Old Trafford once more.
Arsene Wenger Can't Escape Critics Despite West Brom Win
Following the midweek win over Borussia Dortmund, Arsene Wenger might have been given space to breathe in his never-ending struggle against scrutiny at the Emirates Stadium.
However, even with Danny Welbeck handing his side a 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday, the Frenchman came under fire from his own fans, per ESPN:
Having failed to win either of their previous two Premier League clashes, the Gunners were in need of a result and temporarily rose up to fourth in the table after Saturday's early victory.
When questioned on the banner erected in protest of his management at the club, Wenger was quoted by ESPN as saying: "I don't comment on that." Again, Wenger was quizzed on the sign, to which he replied: "Do I need to say it again? I don't comment on your question."
The Gunners' dressing room will undoubtedly take their positives from the West Midlands, though, while Alan Irvine's side are struggling for momentum, having now won just one of their last seven league fixtures.
QPR Best Foxes in Battle of the Premier League New Boys
In any promotion campaign, besting those who came up alongside you will be seen as a something of a more feasible task. Playoff champions Queens Park Rangers did just that against 2013-14 Championship winners Leicester City on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp's men emerged with a 3-2 victory at Loftus Road to rise off the bottom of the Premier League standings into 18th, their highest position since late September. Centre-back Rio Ferdinand was among those pleased by the result:
Esteban Cambiasso gave the visitors a lead after just four minutes, but goals from Leroy Fer and Charlie Austin piled hurt on Leicester after Wes Morgan helped QPR equalise with a comical own goal.
Austin was among the star players of the five-goal display and currently sits as the most prolific English man in the Premier League, with The Sun confirming just what an entertaining result this turned out to be:
Redknapp will hope to see further performances of this nature in an attacking sense, but the gaps in his defence are still showing and stand to have further impact on their battle against the drop.