Chelsea extended their Premier League lead to 11 points after Joe Cole earned the champions a 1-0 win over Manchester City and rivals Manchester United were held 2-2 by Birmingham City on Wednesday.
European champions Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners over Everton, who finished with nine men, in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park to close within four points of United.
There were plenty of goals in London where Arsenal crushed Portsmouth 4-0, Fulham drew 3-3 with Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic beat West Ham 2-0. West Bromwich Albion were surprise 2-0 winners over Tottenham Hotspur at the Hawthorns.
Chelsea, whose only league defeat last season came at the City of Manchester Stadium, had to wait until the 79th minute for the matchwinning tap-in from Cole after an Eidur Gudjohnsen shot was parried.
"It's probably the toughest game we've had all season," Cole told Sky Sports.
"But we passed the ball well and in the end we deserved to win... and it was a great win tonight, especially with Manchester United dropping points."
Cole's fellow England midfielder Frank Lampard missed the match due to illness, meaning his record for consecutive Premier League games has ended at 164.
It was a frustrating night for Alex Ferguson's United, who led twice against Birmingham through Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy and England strike partner Wayne Rooney.
They were pegged back for a draw by a side battling relegation after a late equalizer by Walter Pandiani which left them on 41 points, compared to Chelsea's 52, from 19 games.
"They've worked really hard for their point and we're disappointed to have given leads away twice in the game - our defending on the last one wasn't good enough," Ferguson told Sky Sports News.
"Overall, it was a fair result."
Liverpool stay third after a ninth league win in a row but closed in on United with 37 points from 17 games, three points ahead of Spurs and Wigan.
Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard did the damage, setting up their first goal for Peter Crouch and scoring the second. James Beattie pulled one back for Everton but a solo effort by Liverpool's French striker Djibril Cisse sealed the win.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was not fully satisfied with their performance.
"I am very happy, but at times in the first half Everton caused us problems in the air and we were not winning second balls," he told the club's website.
"We can play a lot better and have played better this season." Everton had Phil Neville dismissed in the 68th minute and Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta sent off in stoppage time.
Their only consolation was that Beattie's goal denied Liverpool a club record of nine league matches without conceding.
Tottenham coach Martin Jol, a former West Brom player, made an unhappy return to his old club as Spurs went down to two goals from Nigerian striker Nwankwo Kanu.
Kanu's old club, Arsenal, moved up to sixth place on 32 points from 18 games with their thumping win at Highbury.
All the goals came in the first half - with captain Thierry Henry scoring twice, including a penalty, and Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Antonio Reyes getting the others.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side were beaten three times in the league earlier this month, was in optimistic mood.
"I have always said there is a lot of potential in the team and we can grow quickly because we have many young players and from month to month they're playing better," he told Sky Sports.
Freezing temperatures across the country put paid to three fixtures - Bolton Wanderers vs. Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers vs. Sunderland and Newcastle United vs. Charlton Athletic.