London: Chelsea again have outright possession of top spot in the English Premier League following a 2-0 victory over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea players celebrate a goal against Newcastle United on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Jose Mourinho's side started the day ahead of Manchester City simply via alphabetical order given the remarkable identical records of both sides after 20 matches of a so far captivating campaign.
But whilst Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent league record on home soil with a 10th successive victory, City could only manage a 1-1 draw at Everton and are now two points adrift.
For Chelsea, Oscar made the all-important breakthrough three minutes before half-time with a right-foot drive from 10 yards before Diego Costa netted his 15th goal of the season in the 57th minute to seal the win.
City held 1-1
At Goodison Park, Manuel Pellegrini's side had to settle for a point, with Fernandinho's 74th-minute opener cancelled out within four minutes by Steven Naismith.
Liverpool close in
Lazar-guided Liverpool close on top four Lazar Markovic scored the only goal as improving Liverpool provisionally closed to within four points of the Premier League's top four by winning 1-0 at Sunderland on Saturday.
At the bottom of the table, Leicester are just two points adrift of safety as they beat Aston Villa 1-0 at the King Power Stadium, and have now taken seven points from their last three matches.
Paul Konchesky, sent off in the 2-1 defeat at Villa in early December after a clash with Alan Hutton — a decision later overturned on appeal — netted the only goal in first-half injury time.
There were further red cards in the dying stages of another feisty encounter when City's Matty James and Villa's Ciaran Clark were both dismissed following a centre-circle melee.
In another vital relegation battle at Turf Moor, it was hosts Burnley who clinched the three points to lift themselves out of the bottom three and drop QPR back into the danger zone, with Harry Redknapp's side setting a new Premier League record of 10 successive away defeats.
Scott Arfield scored his first goal since the opening-day with a strike in the 12th minute, only for Charlie Austin to equalise from the spot just after the half hour.