Stephen Ireland celebrates his goal for Aston Villa at Chelsea with Darren Bent.

Story highlights

Chelsea beaten at 3-1 home by Aston Villa

Defeat sees Andre Villas-Boas' men slip to fifth place

Tottenham Hotspur held 1-1 at Swanseas

Arsenal up to fourth after 1-0 home win over QPR

CNN  — 

Chelsea’s slender title hopes in the English Premier League all but disappeared after a sorry 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa Saturday.

With Manchester United losing 3-2 to Blackburn in the lunchtime kickoff, Chelsea looked to pull themselves nearer the leaders, but instead slipped to fifth spot.

Didier Drogba put Chelsea ahead from the penalty spot on 28 minutes after being brought down in the area by Richard Dunne.

It was the 150th goal for the Blues for the Ivorian favorite, but it proved the only celebration of the afternoon for their fans.

Just five minutes later and Stephen Ireland scored from a rebound after his first effort had hit John Terry on the Chelsea goal-line.

Fernando Torres came on as a second half substitute for Chelsea and rattled the woodwork, but two goals in the final seven minutes from Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent gave Villa victory.

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Andre Villas Boas’ men were booed off at the end and the manger admitted results need to get better.

“We need to improve on a couple of aspects and we know what they are. Villa punished us well in the final stages of the game,” he told Sky Sports.

With Chelsea faltering, London rivals Arsenal took advantage as Robin van Persie scored his 35th Premier League goal of 2011 in a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at the Emirates.

They go up to fourth and gain ground on arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who were held 1-1 at Welsh side Swansea.

Tottenham hoped to move closer in the title race after Manchester United’s defeat and with leaders Manchester City not playing until Sunday.

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But Scott Sinclair’s scrambled late goal equalized Rafael van der Vaart’s first half opener for Spurs to gain a deserved point.

In other action, 10-man Wigan snatched a 2-2 draw with Stoke, Ben Watson scoring with his first touch from the penalty spot to give the relegation strugglers a precious point.

Bolton slipped to the bottom of the table after a 1-1 home draw against Wolves and Norwich and Fulham also shared two goals.