Manchester United remain one point ahead of local rivals Manchester City after both sides recorded important wins in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Alex Ferguson's side defeated London club West Ham 1-0 while Man City, who are the only team in the league still unbeaten, put two goals past a spirited Wigan side.
Chelsea are six points back in third with new interim manager Rafael Benitez only managing a goalless draw with 11th-placed London rivals Fulham. It is Benitez's second draw in two matches since replacing Roberto di Matteo at Stamford Bridge.
Benitez was hoping a victory over Chelsea's west London neighbour would kick start the process of winning over fans unhappy about his controversial hiring last week.
However this result and lackluster performance will increase the frustration of supporters, with Chelsea creating few opportunities in the absence of their in-form playmaker, Juan Mata, who Benitez chose to leave on the bench.
A still out of sorts Fernando Torres squandered Chelsea's only genuine chance in the first half, and it was Fulham that finished the stronger.
Chelsea are now winless in four home league games, their worst run in nearly 10 years.
At Old Trafford, Robin van Persie did what he does best, scoring a first-minute goal which earned Man United a nervy 1-0 win over West Ham.
The Netherlands striker grabbed his ninth goal of the campaign when his shot deflected off James Collins and over the head of goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen after just 32 seconds.
With United lacking any real fluency, Carlton Cole came close to snatching a draw for the mid-table visitors but his close-range attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.
United's fourth straight home win kept City at arm's length after the champions' 2-0 victory at Wigan.
It was Roberto Mancini, not Roberto Martinez, who walked away with the spoils following goals from Mario Balotelli and James Millner. Wigan were at least their equals in the first half but have now gone six games against City without scoring after looking like they would earn themselves draw.
Carlos Tevez was left freezing on the bench as Balotelli scored his first league goal of the season.
Although City have failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, Mancini's team are now 20 league games unbeaten.
Gareth Bale was involved in all three goals as Tottenham beat Liverpool 2-1 to end the visitors' eight-match Premier League unbeaten run.
The Spurs winger eluded several defenders after collecting the ball in his own half before crossing inside the box for Aaron Lennon to tap in at the far post in the seventh minute at White Hart Lane.
Bale's swerving free kick then gave Spurs a 2-0 lead by the 16th. It took a freakish goal to get Liverpool back in the match.
Steven Gerrard headed on a corner to Lennon on a post, but his attempted clearance smashed Bale in the face and the ball ricocheted into the net in the 72nd.
Spurs are only five points out of the Champions League spots.
Arsenal scored in the first minute and were fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at Everton after getting pegged back for much of the game between two teams vying for a top-four spot.
Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the perfect start by chipping goalkeeper Tim Howard from a tight angle less than a minute after kickoff.
But Everton were the better side after that, and Marouane Fellaini equalised in the 28th with a shot from outside the area after a failed clearance by Bacary Sagna landed right at his feet.
Late goals by Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome gave Stoke a 2-1 win over Newcastle to extend their unbeaten home run this season to four Premier League matches.
After Stoke had conceded just their second league goal at Brittania Stadium this season through Papiss Cisse in the 47th minute, Walters levelled in the 81st and Jerome struck the winner four minutes later to keep Newcastle winless in seven straight matches in all competitions.
Swansea used a dominating first-half performance to bring high-flying West Bromwich Albion's excellent run to a halt with a 3-1 victory at home.
The Baggies were overrun in the opening 45 minutes, as Michu scored his ninth goal of the season and Wayne Routledge added a double to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for the Baggies just before halftime but, despite an improved second-half display, Steve Clarke' side couldn't get any closer to a comeback.
An error by Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga gifted Norwich a point from a 1-1 draw, in a match marked by the return of referee Mark Clattenburg following hurtful racism accusations.
Southampton remain in the bottom three with Norwich in 13th.