Team mates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were sent off for fighting each other as Newcastle United ended with eight men on the pitch in a 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Dyer and Bowyer were dismissed by referee Barry Knight after 82 minutes just after Aston Villa went 3-0 up with a second Gareth Barry penalty in seven minutes to end Newcastle's 12-match unbeaten run.
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Meanwhile, Chelsea maintained their charge towards a first league title for 50 years as a deflected Frank Lampard free kick and two Eider Gudjohnsen goals gave them a 3-1 win at Southampton that took them to 80 points.
Arsenal nosed ahead in the battle for second as Thierry Henry, who missed France's World Cup matches last week with a calf injury, returned to score a second successive league hat-trick at Highbury in a 4-1 victory over Norwich City.
That took the champions to 67 points, above Manchester United on goal difference after their rivals were held to a goalless Old Trafford draw by Blackburn Rovers.
For once, however, Chelsea were not the main talking point as Newcastle hogged the headlines for the second day running.
On Friday their fans were celebrating the news that skipper Alan Shearer said he would play on for another season but the former England captain was a peripheral figure on Saturday.
Juan Pablo Angel put Villa ahead after five minutes and the visitors wrapped it with two Gareth Barry penalties.
The first came after Steven Taylor was dismissed after 73 minutes for handball on the line and the second seven minutes later when Angel was brought down.
Dyer and Bowyer then took centre stage, with Newcastle manager Graeme Souness saying later that Bowyer had been the aggressor and "will have to accept any punishment coming his way."
Both players appeared at a post-match news conference to apologise to "everyone concerned with the club" but Souness was left flabbergasted.
"I have never seen anything like that before. It's a first for me," he said.
At Highbury, Henry, who scored all three when Arsenal beat Portsmouth 3-0 a month ago, scored after 19, 22 and 66 minutes to take his club tally for the season to 30. Freddie Ljungberg grabbed the other.
Darren Huckerby briefly gave Norwich some hope when he scored after 30 minutes to make it 2-1 but Norwich remained in bottom place with relegation looking increasingly likely.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "Today was an interesting day for us. Manchester United dropped points and we are back into second and it's down to us now.
"In any other season 67 points with seven games to go we would be fighting for the championship but Chelsea have an exceptional total."
That total reached 80 as Chelsea accounted for Southampton with one eye on next week's Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Bayern Munich.
Lampard's long-range deflected free kick put them ahead after 22 minutes and a great run by defender Glen Johnson set up Gudjohnsen for his first after 39.
Southampton, hovering one place above the relegation zone, hit back through Kevin Phillips in the 70th minute but Icelander Gudjohnsen finished off a sweet passing move six minutes from time.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said that Blackburn, managed by one of his former players Mark Hughes, were a hard team to play against after being held to a draw.
United hit the woodwork twice in the first half before losing their way and Ferguson said: "They slow the game down at every opportunity and it works very well for them."
More bad news for United is that Ryan Giggs pulled a hamstring and will probably miss the FA Cup semi-final against Newcastle in two weeks.
Elsewhere, Liverpool beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 with an 86th minute header from Igor Biscan to move to within a point of fourth-placed Everton, who play West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Middlesbrough won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Crystal Palace with a first half header from Franck Queudrue, while Charlton Athletic levelled in the dying seconds of stoppage time to draw 2-2 with Manchester City.
Jermaine Pennant, who was released from prison on Thursday following a drink-driving conviction, played with an electronic prisoner's tag on his ankle for Birmingham City who drew 1-1 at home with Tottenham Hotspur.