LONDON/MANCHESTER: Diego Costa ended his seven-game goal drought but the Chelsea striker's 18th Premier League strike of the season was not enough to secure victory as the leaders were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho's side were desperate to bounce back from their midweek Champions League exit against Paris Saint Germain and take advantage of Manchester City's surprise defeat against Burnley on Saturday.
But Dusan Tadic's 19th penalty cancelled out Costa's 11th minute opener and denied the Blues the chance to establish an even more commanding lead over the chasing pack.
While a point extended Chelsea's lead at the head of the table to six points, having played a game less than second-placed City, it was a disappointing end to a frustrating week for Mourinho and company.
The draw also frustrated Southampton, who were unable to make bigger inroads in their efforts to force their way back into contention for a top four finish.
Ronald Koeman's side had enjoyed a 12-day break since the victory over Crystal Palace that had revived their top-four challenge.
Presented with the opportunity to take his players for a mid-season break, Koeman broke with tradition, opting to head for the snow of Switzerland instead of the more traditional warm weather training trip.
The move appeared to have had the desired effect with Southampton looking sharp and refreshed as they quickly recovered and were back on level terms thanks to a contentious penalty decision.
City's title bid still on despite defeat: Pellegrini
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes the Premier League title race is not over despite a damaging 1-0 defeat to relegation battlers Burnley at Turf Moor.
Burnley forward George Boyd scored the decisive goal with a superb half-volley to give the Clarets a deserved victory against the reigning champions on Saturday.
"When you have a mathematical chance, you have a chance to win the title," said the Frenchman. "The reality is that it's more difficult to do so now. Every point we drop will be more difficult.”
The visitors produced a disappointing display as they failed to match the intensity and work-rate of Burnley's players, particularly in the first half.
City now turn their attention to the second leg of their last 16-tie against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, which they trail 2-1.
‘Arsenal ready for Monaco test’
Arsene Wenger insists his Arsenal players believe they can overturn a 3-1 deficit against Monaco in the Champions League on Tuesday, but the Gunners manager is less confident about their chances of winning the Premier League.
Goals from Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini secured a 3-0 win over West Ham that left Arsenal in buoyant mood ahead of their tricky last 16 second leg trip to Monaco in midweek.
While it might be too late for Arsenal to mount a title charge, Wenger claimed it was only the effects of the World Cup that prevented his side being in a position to put more pressure on Chelsea.
"Today we are a different team. We suffered a lot post-World Cup," said Wenger. "What is for sure is the players understand each other much better than six or seven months ago and that makes everyone much more dangerous."
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