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Saturday 29 March 2014

Review: Man City spurn opportunity to go top

Man City held by Arsenal after Chelsea's shock defeat by Crystal Palace

Manchester City missed an opportunity to go top of the Barclays Premier League after being held to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal. Chelsea's shock 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace earlier in the day meant victory for City would put them at the summit on goal difference.

Such a scenario looked set to happen as David Silva broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, with City dominating the first half at the Emirates Stadium. However, a rejuvenated Arsenal emerged after the break and Mathieu Flamini pulled the hosts level to boost their title hopes. The draw means City are two points behind Chelsea, over whom they have two matches in hand, and one off Liverpool, who have played a match more. Arsenal are three points further back in fourth.

Speaking before City's draw Jose Mourinho said it was"impossible" for Chelsea to win the Barclays Premier League after John Terry's own goal sent the Blues to a 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace

The Chelsea captain put through his own net in the 52nd minute at Selhurst Park. Palace full-back Joel Ward whipped in a cross from the left and, as Terry challenged Joe Ledley, the ball glanced off the captain's head and flew past Petr Cech. It was a huge setback for Mourinho's men, who missed out on the chance to go four points clear at the top with fellow title contenders Liverpool and Manchester City still to play this weekend.

"It is now impossible to win the title," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "We depend too much on other results. "With what happened two weekends ago [losing to Aston Villa] and today, it is too much now and we depend on too many results.

The victory, Palace's first in the league over Chelsea since 1990, gives Tony Pulis's side a lift in their bid to avoid relegation as they sit 16th, five points clear of the bottom three.

There was no shortage of late drama at The Hawthorns as West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City produced a thrilling 3-3 draw. Substitute Thievy Bifouma looked to have snatched three points late on for West Brom, who led 2-0 after just 10 minutes, before Mats Daehli, who also came off the bench, levelled at the death to salvage a precious point and stop West Brom from distancing themselves from the bottom three.

Morgan Amalfitano and Graham Dorrans had eased any home nerves with early goals, however, Jordon Mutch and Steven Caulker found the net either side of half-time for the visitors, who showed character to deny Albion again in a breathtaking finale. The draw kept West Brom three points above Cardiff and the relegation zone.

Garry Monk registered just his second win as Swansea City head coach as Norwich City were beaten 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium. A Jonathan de Guzman brace helped to lift Swansea seven points clear of the relegation zone. The hosts were dominant throughout and took the lead on the half-hour, when De Guzman found the net with a powerful drive from 18 yards.The Netherlands midfielder doubled his tally before the break, putting Swansea two goals up, before Wayne Routledge rounded off a well-deserved victory. As well as easing lingering fears of relegation for Monk’s men, the result leaves Norwich six points clear of the drop zone, having played three matches more than 19th-placed Sunderland, who face West Ham United on Monday.

A fine solo goal from Peter Odemwingie guided Stoke City to a third straight Barclays Premier League win in a 1-0 triumph over Hull City on Saturday. The 32-year-old striker picked up Ahmed Elmohamady's misplaced pass before drilling into the bottom left-hand corner at the Britannia Stadium. Victory moved Stoke within six points of ninth-placed Newcastle United, while Hull are still looking over their shoulder in 14th, seven points off the drop zone.

Southampton's trio of England FIFA World Cup hopefuls were the stars of the show as they eased to a 4-0 win over Newcastle. Jay Rodriguez scored twice, with Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana also finding the net, to help Southampton cruise to victory in front of the watching England manager Roy Hodgson at St Mary's.

Earlier in the day Manchester United ended a week of frustration on the pitch in fine fashion by beating Aston Villa 4-1. After a midweek defeat by Manchester City the mood at Old Trafford became more concerned as Ashley Westwood's second goal of the season gave Paul Lambert's side a shock lead. However, Wayne Rooney dragged the hosts in front with a double before half-time, taking his tally to six goals from his last six league matches. Any home jitters were put to rest 12 minutes into the second half as Juan Mata scored his first United goal, before substitute Javier Hernandez rounded matters off late on.

The win keeps United within reach of the top six and also serves as a perfect tonic ahead of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against holders Bayern Munich.

Man Utd 4-1 Aston Villa | #MUNAVL | Matchday Live page >>

Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea  | #CRYCHE | Matchday Live page >>

Southampton 4-0 Newcastle United  | #SOUNEW | Matchday Live page >>

Stoke City 1-0 Hull City  | #STKHUL | Matchday Live page >>

Swansea City 3-0 Norwich City  | #SWANOR | Matchday Live page >>

West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Cardiff City  | #WBACAR | Matchday Live page >>

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City  | #ARSMCI | Matchday Live page >>

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