Man Utd leave dent in Chelsea's Premier League title hopes
Blues see lead cut to four points after losing 2-0 at Old Trafford while Spurs thrash Bournemouth
Manchester United blew the title race wide open on Sunday with their 2-0 defeat of Chelsea reducing the Blues' lead over Tottenham to just four points.
Spurs trounced Bournemouth 4-0 on Saturday, their seventh win on the bounce and one that will add an extra piquancy to their FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea on Saturday.
But win or lose the semi-final at Wembley, the Blues' main focus remains the Premier League title. There is growing concern among their fans, however, that having led the field for so long their team is tiring down the home straight.
Anxiety was writ large across the face of Antonio Conte in the wake of Sunday's defeat with the Chelsea manager shouldering responsibility for the result.
"We didn't play a good game and United deserved to win the game," said Conte, whose side were ten points clear of Spurs last month. "They showed more desire, more ambition, more motivation. In this case the fault is of the coach."
Asked to elaborate, the Italian said he was unable to "transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this game".
In a candid aside, Conte admitted to having doubts as the season enters its final month. "I have concern because we have to work together and find quickly the right ambition to win this title," he said. "Tottenham is in good form and playing with enthusiasm. We must find the same."
At least Conte can look forward to a more favourable run-in for his side. Four of their remaining six matches are at Stamford Bridge and none of those against a top side. Of their two games on the road, only the trip to Everton on 30 April is against a club looking to secure a place in European competition next season.
In contrast, Tottenham hit the road four times in their final six games. They also face a home game against local rivals Arsenal and while Gooners won't be able to celebrate St Totteringham's Day this year for the first time in 22 seasons, nothing would give them greater pleasure than to derail their neighbours' bid for another season of Champions League football.
But Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino believes his side will be able to withstand the pressure in the weeks ahead, unlike last season when they imploded in the last month of their league campaign as they tried to catch Leicester.
"I think we've learnt a lot," said Pochettino. "There was a very bad period at the end of last season. We spent a lot of energy fighting against Leicester. Now we're focusing on fighting against our opponent when we play. We spend time and energy preparing ourselves to compete in the best way. It's a big step for us."
Explaining that the challenge he set his squad at the start of the season was to "improve our mentality", Pochettino said he was satisfied with the result. "I think you can see the group and the team improved a lot."
It was just as well for United's Champions League hopes that they picked up three points against Chelsea because Liverpool and Manchester City also won at the weekend.
Liverpool won 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion and are five points behind Spurs but having played one game more, while City eased past Southampton 3-0 and are two points shy of their Merseyside rivals, with a game in hand. United are fifth, on 60 points, four fewer than City, and Arsenal and Everton are on 57.