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Chelsea beat Newcastle United 2-0 for a 10th straight Premier League home win at their Stamford Bridge stronghold on Saturday to reassert themselves as Premier League leaders while Manchester City drew 1-1 at Everton.
Jose Mourinho's team had relinquished control in the title race in recent weeks with City roaring back to close an eight-point deficit and draw level but goals from Oscar and Diego Costa edged them two points clear at the top.
City, who had collected 25 points from the last 27 on offer, took the lead late on at Goodison Park through Fernandinho but Steven Naismith's header secured a point for the hosts to leave City manager Manuel Pellegrini frustrated.
"If you had said at the beginning of the game we would draw against Everton away, then maybe it is not a bad result, but because we had so many chances we are not happy with the draw," Pellegrini told reporters.
"I said before that from now until the end of the season every game will be a final. It is very difficult but we are not deciding the title in this moment."
Chelsea, who were second best during the first half before Oscar's well-worked 43rd minute opener, have 49 points from 21 games with City on 47. A clash between the two title favourites looms later this month.
With Southampton at third-placed Manchester United on Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur had the chance to move into the top four but despite another goal for in-form striker Harry Kane they went down 2-1 at Crystal Palace.
Kane's eighth league goal low into the corner put Spurs ahead after halftime but Palace, with Alan Pardew in charge for the first time in the league, hit back through Dwight Gayle's penalty and Jason Puncheon's winner to escape the bottom three.
Eighth-placed Liverpool edged nearer the top four with a 1-0 victory at Sunderland, Lazar Markovic's first Premier League goal deciding the contest at a blustery Stadium of Light.
They are now four points behind fourth-placed Southampton who have 36 before their visit to United who have 37.
"It was an outstanding team performance today. We had great control of the game but I suppose the only disappointment is we did not have more goals," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who was without the rested Raheem Sterling, told BT Sport.
Queens Park Rangers fell into the relegation zone after a 2-1 loss at Burnley, in the process becoming the first Premier League side to lose their first 10 away games of the season. Danny Ings scored Burnley's winner.
Both sides ended with 10 men at Leicester City where the hosts stayed bottom despite beating Aston Villa 1-0, while West Bromwich Albion's new manager Tony Pulis enjoyed a winning league start with a 1-0 defeat of Hull City.
Former England defender Paul Konchesky scored for Leicester in first-half stoppage time to earn the Foxes their first home league win since they beat Manchester United in September.
Villa's Ciaran Clark and Leicester's Matty James received red cards for a late spat.
Swansea City and West Ham United drew 1-1.
Chelsea, beaten 5-3 by Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day, were far from convincing against a Newcastle side who beat them in December to end their unbeaten start to the season and rode their luck when Moussa Sissoko hit the post.
Remy Cabella was also denied by a great save from keeper Petr Cech, restored to the starting lineup because of a finger injury to Thibaut Courtois.
However, once a quickly-taken free kick allowed Oscar to pounce, Chelsea took command with Costa's clinching goal the end product of a flowing move and a dazzling flick by Oscar.
Mourinho, who has found himself in trouble with the FA after some of his recent comments about a so-called "anti-Chelsea" conspiracy, declined to talk to reporters after the match, sending assistant Steve Holland out instead.
"It is important that when you don't play as well as you'd like you still get the result," said Holland.
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