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Is Title Race Over In England?

St-Mary-SaintsThe Premier League title looks like it will be moving to the red half of Manchester after champions Manchester City suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Southampton. The defeat leaves City, nine points behind leaders United, who play Everton tomorrow.

City’s defeat, combined with wins byChelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal tightens up the race for the Champions League places.

The big shock was not that Man City lost at Southampton. Both Man United and Arsenal have struggled at the St Mary’s. What was shocking was the way that Southampton outplayed and dominated the match.

The Saints went ahead to a Jason Puncheon effort after just seven minutes and were 2-0 up when Steven Davis pounced on a Joe Hart mistake to score. Edin Džeko cut the deficit before half-time, but a Gareth Barry own goal shortly after the break restored Southampton’s two-goal advantage. And with Carlos Tevez missing due to a family emergency, and Mario Balotelli sold to AC Milan last month, City manager Roberto Mancini had no plan B on the bench.

Chelsea started the day in third and got a much needed home win, Frank Lampard issued another timely contract reminder to Roman Abramovich as he scored his 198th career goal for the Blues in the 86th minute to settle his side’s nerves after the visitors had briefly threatened to pile more misery upon Rafa Benitez.

Ramires put Chelsea in front in the 23rd minute and Eden Hazard returned from his ball boy suspension when he struck a low right-foot shot to increase the home side’s lead after 56 minutes. But Wigan reduced the deficit when Shaun Maloney scored from a tight angle on 58 minutes, and the Latics threatened before Lampard intervened to effectively seal the three points.

The home side gave the final score a slightly lop-sided look when late substitute Marko Marin headed his first goal for the club in injury-time.

Spurs remain a point back of Chelsea after Gareth Bale struck a fine double against Newcastle United FC. The Welshman’s swerving free-kick gave the hosts the lead before Yoan Gouffran struck an equaliser, but Bale’s driving run and finish ultimately secured the win.

Tottenham’s North London neighbours Arsenal survived the 62nd minute sending off of Carl Jenkinson to defeat Sunderland AFC 1-0 courtesy of Santi Cazorla’s first-half strike. The win moved the Gunners up to fifth, four points behind Spurs.

As for Swansea, they hit five past Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the season and dished out further punishment against the bottom side, Michu striking twice to secure a 4-1 success that moved the Swans seventh.