LONDON: Chelsea took a significant step towards the Premier League title on Sunday with victory at Everton but Tottenham ensured the champagne will stay on ice for a bit longer with an impressive 2-0 win over Arsenal.
As well as the engrossing fight for the title the battle for the two remaining Champions League places has become a real dogfight — Arsenal missing a chance to make up ground on the two Manchester clubs, who both stumbled on Sunday.
Second-half goals by Dele Alli and Harry Kane, from the penalty spot, sealed the three points and ensured that Spurs will finish above their North London rivals Arsenal for the first time in 22 years.
But whether they will ever hunt down relentless Chelsea is another matter, with just four games left and Chelsea still four points clear, and with an easier run-in.
A superb second-half strike by Pedro and late goals from Gary Cahill and Willian ended Everton’s run of eight successive home wins.
Chelsea took time to settle but once Pedro scored their opener — his first goal in nine matches — the floodgates opened and they ran out 3-0 winners.
“This gives us lots of confidence,” manager Antonio Conte told Sky Sports. “Now it is important to prepare the final rush.
“If in the next game against Middlesbrough you don’t win, you lose this victory. We must look step by step.”
Cahill’s eighth goal of the season and Willian’s beautifully worked third inflicted only Everton’s second home defeat of the season.
“It was convincing but we had to work hard for it,” Cahill told Sky Sports, sensing this might be the win that delivers the title in Conte’s first season at Chelsea.
“Pedro’s goal was special, at times you need a bit of class to open up a team, that’s what he did today. I’m buzzing with that, it’s a huge result for us.”
City had to come from behind twice to draw 2-2 at Middlesbrough and United drew 1-1 at home to Swansea on a bad day for the Manchester giants against relegation candidates.
City relied on 20-year-old striker Gabriel Jesus to secure them a point in the final five minutes of their game against a Boro side scenting back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time since May 2008.
Jesus’s vastly more experienced strike partner Sergio Aguero had pulled City level at 1-1 with a penalty before Calum Chambers restored the hosts’ lead.
“We controlled the game and missed so many chances,” Jesus told Premier League Productions.
“Today’s result is disappointing but at least we have a point.”
Arsenal’s defeat in the last North London derby at White Hart Lane leaves manager Arsene Wenger’s proud record of qualifying for the Champions League in real trouble.
They are sixth, five points behind United and six behind City in fourth, although the Londoners have a game in hand on both.
Only the top four get into the Champions League.
A sublime free-kick by Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson gained Swansea a deserved point against United at Old Trafford.
Sigurdsson’s 10th goal of the season, but first in 11 matches, cancelled out veteran Wayne Rooney’s contentious penalty in time added on in the first half when Marcus Rashford made the most out of minimal contact with Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It will be of little consolation to manager Jose Mourinho that it extended United’s unbeaten run to 25 and they have not been defeated at Old Trafford since September 10 last year.
Mourinho saw two more defenders depart injured in the impressive Eric Bailly on the hour mark and Luke Shaw in just the eighth minute.
“We lost players and we lost points, so yes, today was a bad day,” Mourinho told the BBC.
“We did not look tired and exhausted, we are tired and exhausted.
“You cannot isolate the performance out of the context. This is the ninth match of April, it is not human.”