Manchester United kept up the pressure on the pacesetters when a terrific goal from impressive youngster Jesse Lingard helped them on the way to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford and put them within a point of the leaders.
However, Chelsea failed to deliver the Premier League gift that might have taken the suffocating pressure off an absent friend as manager Jose Mourinho was forced to endure yet another defeat at Stoke City.
12 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
7 Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
Odion Ighalo (Watford)
6 Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle)
Graziano Pelle (Southampton)
Mourinho had shrugged that his stadium ban might force him to watch the match on a street corner on his iPad but wherever he saw the game, Marko Arnautovic's 52nd minute volley in Stoke's 1-0 win will have made for wretched viewing for him.
The defeat drops Chelsea to 16th place, astonishingly hovering just three points above the relegation zone and placing further question marks over Mourinho's future at the club he led to championship glory just six months ago.
Earlier, Leicester City became unlikely bedfellows with Premier League giants Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table as striker Jamie Vardy maintained his extraordinary scoring sequence.
The England forward hammered home a 65th-minute penalty to score for the ninth consecutive league match and seal Leicester's 2-1 win over Watford.
The victory put the Midlands side joint top with Manchester City and Arsenal, who both play on Sunday. All three have 25 points, although Leicester are behind on goal difference.
|Chelsea suffered their third successive defeat betting, games or single club/league/player publications. [EPA]
Manchester United's fans found relief after another largely underwhelming performance from Louis van Gaal's side was redeemed by the superb goal from Lingard, who was also impressive in the midweek Champions League win over CSKA Moscow, and a late second.
West Ham United missed the chance to close on the leaders after Romelu Lukaku scored his customary goal against the Hammers at Upton Park to earn Everton a 1-1 draw.
Bournemouth 0-1 Newcastle
Leicester City 2-1 Watford
Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea
Manchester United 2-0 West Brom
Norwich City 1-0 Swansea City
Sunderland 0-1 Southampton 1
West Ham 1-1 Everton