Chelsea did little to take the spotlight away from manager Antonio Conte, linked with a post-season move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain this week, in a goalless draw with Leicester City on Saturday.
Alan Pardew oversaw his first Premier League victory as West Brom manager thanks to a 2-0 win over Brighton, while Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle came from behind to draw 1-1 with bottom-of-the-table Swansea City as the battle to avoid relegation intensified.
With Tottenham Hotspur playing in Saturday’s late kick-off against Everton and runaway leaders Manchester City not facing Liverpool until Sunday, Chelsea were the only top six side involved in a 1500 GMT kick-off.
But the Blues could not pierce Leicester’s defence at Stamford Bridge even when visiting left-back Ben Chilwell was sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.
Meanwhile Chelsea and England defender Gary Cahill went off injured in the first half as the Blues were left 15 points adrift of City.
– ‘Tired’ Chelsea –
“I think we played with a lot of top players against Arsenal (in a midweek goalless League Cup semi-final first leg), and then again today against a very good team,” Conte told the BBC.
“I think a lot of our players were tired,” Conte added before downplaying the extent of Cahill’s injury by saying “I do not think it was serious”.
West Brom, who kicked off level on points with Swansea, needed just four minutes to take the lead at The Hawthorns when Jonny Evans headed in from a corner.
And they went 2-0 up in the 56th minute thanks to a Craig Dawson header that secured their first league win since August 19.
The Baggies remained in the relegation zone as indeed did Swansea but Evans said: “It was a great feeling and there was a bit of pressure at the end of the game since it has been so long since we won.”
Jordan Ayew gave Swansea the lead on the hour in Newcastle when he nodded in a rebound after an initial header was blocked before Magpies substitute Joselu equalised 10 minutes later with virtually his first touch of the game.
James Ward-Prowse scored his first two goals of the Premier League season for Southampton but that wasn’t enough to give the Saints a desperately-needed win as hosts Watford rallied for a 2-2 draw.
– Taylor remembered –
Vicarage Road was even more brightly bedecked in the club’s yellow colours than usual as Hornets fans marked the first anniversary of the passing of their celebrated former manager and ex-England boss Graham Taylor.
But despite the highly-charged atmosphere, it was Southampton who broke the deadlock thanks to Ward-Prowse’s low strike in the 20th minute.
Ward-Prowse, on target in last weekend’s 1-0 win FA Cup victory over Fulham, doubled the Saints’ lead shortly before half-time after he was unselfishly played in by Dusan Tadic.
Watford pulled a goal back through an Andre Gray header and then equalised in controversial fashion right at the finish when Abdoulaye Doucoure turned in a Troy Deeney flick-on.
Doucoure turned the ball in with his hand as he stooped for a header but, with no video assistant referees in the Premier League, the goal stood and denied Southampton a first league win in 10 games.
“I never see this type of mistake in the Premier League before,” said Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
“To live this injustice is really hard. I think we have to try (VAR).”
Crystal Palace’s Bakary Sako scored the only goal of the game in the 21st minute as Roy Hodgson’s Eagles saw off Burnley 1-0 at Selhurst Park, while West Ham overpowered Huddersfield Town 4-1.
West Ham, in common with fellow strugglers Palace and West Brom, have changed managers mid-season with David Moyes replacing Slaven Bilic at the London Stadium.
Moyes’s men opened the scoring at Huddersfield in the 25th minute when Town’s Joe Lolley was dispossessed, with Mark Noble advancing into the area before unleashing a powerful shot.
But Lolley atoned five minutes before the break by drawing the visitors level after he curled a shot into the far corner.
West Ham regained soon after the break when Marko Arnautovic, straight from the kick off, hooked the ball past Tommy Smith and shot home.
Manuel Lanzini made it 3-1 before scoring his second and the Hammers’ fourth in the 61st minute.
Sunday sees Arsenal away to Bournemouth while Manchester United, second but still 15 points behind Manchester City, face managerless Stoke at Old Trafford on Monday.