| QPR's Djibril Cisse marked his return to the EPL with a goal in the first 15 minutes [GETTY]
Newcastle United closed in on the top four with a 2-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday and Arsenal slipped to seventh after a goalless draw at Bolton Wanderers stretched their winless run in the English Premier League to four matches.
Scott Dann's own goal and a late effort by substitute Gabriel Obertan lifted Newcastle into fifth place, three points behind Chelsea, as Rovers remained stuck fast in the relegation zone.
Arsenal drew 0-0 at Bolton and remain five points adrift of the top-four place that has been a virtual guarantee for the past decade under manager Arsene Wenger whose Dutch striker Robin van Persie was twice denied by the woodwork.
Djibril Cisse needed less than 15 minutes to mark his return to the Premier League with a goal as he opened his account for Queen's Park Rangers in their 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.
The 30-year-old former Liverpool and Sunderland player, who signed on transfer deadline day from Lazio, celebrated with a somersault after smashing a shot past Villa keeper Shay Given.
QPR doubled their lead with a Stephen Warnock own goal but England striker Darren Bent halved the deficit on the stroke of halftime and Charles N'Zogbia volleyed a second-half equaliser, his first goal for the Midlands club.
Sunderland's form continued its upward curve since Martin O'Neill took over as manager with a 3-0 home victory over Norwich City that lifted them to eighth - Fraizer Campbell paving the way for the three points with a spectacular volleyed opener.
Former Fulham coach Roy Hodgson returned to Craven Cottage where his West Bromwich Albion side eked out a 1-1 draw thanks to a late equaliser by Somen Tchoyi.
Champions Manchester United moved level at the top of the table with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday when leaders Manchester City suffered a 1-0 defeat at Everton.