Manchester United moved three points clear at the Premier League summit after beating Reading 4-3 in a remarkable game on Saturday, which was to prove a day of despair for Chelsea and Arsenal.
All the goals came before half-time at the Madejski Stadium, equalling the Premier League record for first-half goals, as United overcame their defensive frailties to draw away from Manchester City -- held 1-1 by Everton -- ahead of next weekend's Manchester derby.
Chelsea are now 10 points off the pace in third place after seeing their run without victory stretch to seven games in a 3-1 defeat at West Ham United, while Arsenal tumbled to 10th after a 2-0 loss at home to Swansea City.
A Wayne Rooney penalty put United 2-1 up in the 16th minute at Reading after Anderson had cancelled out Hal Robson-Kanu's eighth-minute opener for the hosts, only for headers from Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison to restore the home side's lead.
However, Rooney tucked away Patrice Evra's cross to equalise in the 30th minute before Robin van Persie put Alex Ferguson's men back in front moments later by finishing from Rooney's flick.
Van Persie had a goal ruled out before half-time despite the ball appearing to cross the line and then blazed wide of an open goal in the second half after an error from Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, but 4-3 proved enough.
Michu was Arsenal's scourge at the Emirates Stadium, claiming a late brace for Swansea to leave Arsene Wenger's side five points below the top four.
Marouane Fellaini put Everton ahead in the 33rd minute at City, following in after Joe Hart parried his header, but the Belgian's foul on Edin Dzeko allowed Carlos Tevez to bring the champions level from the spot before half-time.
A 75th-minute goal by Dean Whitehead gave Stoke City a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion, and Tottenham Hotspur capitalised on the Baggies' setback to move into fourth place with a 3-0 win at Fulham.
Brazilian holding midfielder Sandro set Spurs on their way with a wickedly swerving 30-yard effort in the 55th minute, before a quick-fire Jermain Defoe brace took the game away from Martin Jol's side.
Harry Redknapp's home debut as Queens Park Rangers manager ended in stalemate after the top flight's bottom club were held 1-1 by Aston Villa at Loftus Road.
Liverpool climbed one place to 11th after Daniel Agger's 43rd-minute header secured a 1-0 success at home to Southampton.