Manchester United and Chelsea kept up the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday with home wins over Derby County and Sunderland respectively.
United beat bottom-placed Derby County 4-1 at Old Trafford where Ryan Giggs scored a landmark 100th league goal, to move on to 36 points from 16 matches.
Chelsea beat Sunderland 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to climb on to 34 points from 16 matches.
Arsenal, who play at Middlesbrough on Sunday, lead the table with 37 points from 15 games.
United were expected to coast to victory over a Derby side nailed to the bottom of the table with just one win from their opening 15 games and no goals away from home.
But although United dominated, they had to wait until the 40th minute to take the lead.
Derby keeper Stephen Bywater could only parry a Cristiano Ronaldo shot which fell to Giggs who tapped in his landmark goal.
Carlos Tevez scored two to put United 3-0 ahead before Steve Howard bagged Derby's first away goal of the season after 76 minutes.
Ronaldo completed the scoring with a last minute penalty for the home side.
Chelsea were also made to work harder than they wanted against a struggling Sunderland side who had only picked up two away points all season.
Andriy Shevchenko, getting a rare start in the absence of injured Didier Drogba, headed Chelsea ahead after 23 minutes.
"It's not going to be easy without Didier but I didn't come here for an easy life," Chelsea boss Avram Grant told reporters afterwards.
"The operation he had on his knee today looks good so its not easy but we need togo on winning games anyway," he added.
Neither side created much in terrible conditions at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea made sure of extending their unbeaten home league run to 71matches when Frank Lampard converted a penalty after Danny Higginbotham had pulled Alex's shirt in the area.
Sunderland ended the match with 10 men after Liam Miller was shown a red card for pushing Claudio Pizarro in the face in the 88thminute.
Everton maintained their recent good run with a 3-0 home win over Fulham at Goodison Park where Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored a second half hat-trickto leave Fulham without an away win this season.
Defender Habib Beye's late winner helped relieve the pressure on Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce as the side beat Birmingham City 2-1in a match played in snow and sleet at St James' Park.
CameronJerome took advantage of some lax defending by Newcastle to put Birmingham ahead after nine minutes but the home team equalised when Obafemi Martins squeezed home a penalty at the end of the first half.
Birminghamdominated for much of the second half, but fell to Beye's late goal.
Portsmouth climbed to fifth in the table with a 3-1 win at Aston Villa, their first league win there for almost 38years.
Sulley Muntari scored two stunning goals while a Craig Gardner own goal put Portsmouth 3-0ahead and although Gareth Barry replied from the spot for Villa, Portsmouth held on to win their sixth successive away match.
Liverpoolwere meeting Reading later on Saturday while four other matches are scheduled for Sunday.