Chelsea are now a point ahead of Manchester United with a game in hand after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Birmingham at Stamford Bridge.
Florent Malouda headed home from six yards in the fifth minute after Joe Cole's clever cross found him unmarked, and a Frank Lampard brace sealed the victory which ended Blues' 15-match unbeaten run.
Arsenal dropped a place to third, two points behind the leaders, after they twice hit the woodwork in a goalless draw at Villa Park.
Cesc Fabregas struck the post in first-half stoppage time and then Tomas Rosicky crashed a shot against the underside of the bar after the break.
Villa were arguably the better side in a pulsating end-to-end affair but a point only keeps Martin O'Neill's side in seventh.
Elsewhere Landon Donovan netted his first goal for Everton as they inflicted more misery on Sunderland with a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
Tim Cahill headed Everton in front in the seventh minute before Donovan, on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy, doubled the advantage 11 minutes later.
The Black Cats have now recorded just one win in 13 league matches.
In the night's other game, Gary Caldwell scored his first goal for Wigan but it was not enough to prevent Blackburn from recording a 2-1 triumph.
Morten Gamst Pedersen took advantage of a mistake from on-loan goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic in the 20th minute to score his third goal in six matches.
But, just 10 minutes into the second half Caldwell equalised on his second appearance since his recent move from Celtic.
However, Nikola Kalinic bagged the winner with 15 minutes to go.
Source : TeamTalk