eLiverpool's bid for a first English title since 1990 suffered a significant setback on Wednesday as Rafael Benitez's side were held to a 1-1 draw at Wigan. A late penalty equaliser from Egyptian striker Mido earned Wigan a deserved point and enabled Chelsea, 2-0 winners over Middlesbrough, to reclaim second place from Liverpool, courtesy of their superior goal difference.
Both clubs however will be acutely aware that the title is now Manchester United's to lose with the champions, who thrashed West Bromich Albion 5-0 on Tuesday, two points clear of both their nearest rivals with a game in hand.
Arsenal's chances of a return to the UEFA Champions League next season suffered another blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Everton. It could have been worse for the Gunners but for Robin van Persie's stoppage time equaliser, which cancelled out Tim Cahill's opener for Everton.
The draw nevertheless left Arsenal five points adrift of Aston Villa, the side currently occupying the fourth and final qualifying spot for Europe's elite competition. "A point is never enough because you always play for three but it was a difficult game and I maintain that Everton are as big a threat for us as Aston Villa," insisted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Yossi Benayoun put Liverpool ahead at Wigan four minutes before half-time. Wigan dominated after the break but Liverpool looked like they would hold out before Jason Koumas went down under an unnecessary challenge from Lucas Leiva. Mido, signed on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, stepped up and smashed the spot-kick past Jose Reina.
"We had control of the game and we didn't kill it," Benitez complained. "When you are top of the table you know that every single game is really important so when you lose two points you have to be disappointed. But we have an important game on Sunday (against Chelsea) and if we play like we played in the first half we can beat anyone."
A double from Salomon Kalou gave Chelsea their win over Middlesbrough and set up what the Blues' assistant manager, Ray Wilkins, billed as a "massive game" at Liverpool on Sunday. "Over the past couple of years, we've had some fantastic games with them," Wilkins added. "I'm sure this will be the same."
Blackburn came from two goals down to rescue a point against local rivals Bolton with Benni McCarthy making amends for a missed penalty by notching the equaliser. Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies had put Bolton 2-0 ahead at the break. Stephen Warnock pulled a goal back in the 66th minute and McCarthy ultimately rescued a point, despite having a penalty saved by Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Brazilian forward Robinho put off-field worries to one side to set up Shaun Wright-Phillips for Manchester City's opening goal in a 2-1 win over Newcastle. Robinho was named in the starting line-up and rewarded the faith of manager Mark Hughes with the pass that cued up Wright-Phillips to score after 17 minutes.
Newcastle's cause was not helped by the loss of Michael Owen, who limped off midway through the first half, and Craig Bellamy, making his debut for City against one of his former clubs, made sure of the three points with a left-foot drive 13 minutes from time. Andy Carroll pulled a goal back for Newcastle but they never looked like salvaging a point.