Chelsea's rapid improvement under coach Guus Hiddink has continued with a 1-nil home win over Manchester City which moved them back into second place in the English Premier football League.
Michael Essien, recently back from a long layoff with a knee injury, beat City keeper Shay Given in the 18th minute to seal the victory that left Chelsea four points behind leaders Manchester United who lost 4-1 at home to Liverpool yesterday.
Champions United, who have played a game fewer than their rivals, have 65 points with Chelsea and Liverpool on 61.
Aston Villa's poor run continued in a 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur which left them below fourth-placed Arsenal in the race for a Champions League spot.
Tottenham moved up to 11th, six points above Stoke City who are third from bottom.