Dogged Villa grind out draw to slow Chelsea title charge

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Chelsea spurned the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League as they fought out a goalless draw against Aston Villa.

With Manchester United held by West Brom earlier in the day, Carlo Ancelotti’s side had the chance to pull away from their title-chasing rivals.

But their missed opportunity means that their lead at the table’s summit remains at five points. Chelsea are still a hugely convincing 4/7 to win the title.

Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were both missing from Chelsea’s line-up at Villa Park, and their absence was telling.

The visitors struggled initially, and were fortunate not to go into the half-time break behind, with Stephen Ireland and John Carew both failing to convert good chances.

An improved second half performance saw Chelsea twice hit the woodwork through Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka, but the resolute hosts held on for a deserved point.

From Villa’s perspective, the draw was certainly an improvement on their last meeting with Chelsea, where they lost 7-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Gerard Houllier was cheered by his side’s spirited display, and the 350/1 title shots appear to be keeping up with their rivals for a Europa League spot in eighth place.

Who are Chelsea’s biggest threat at the top of the table? Arsenal are five points behind the leaders in second place, and they are 8/1 to win the title. See the full Barclays Premier League Betting Odds market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.