Chelsea are still top thanks to John Terry's late winner, West Ham United record fourth successive league win and Felix Magath's first game as Fulham manager ends in a draw.
Wayne Rooney caps lucrative week with goal in 2-0 win over Crystal Palace
Wayne Rooney celebrated his new contract with a stunning goal to clinch a vital away win for Manchester United at Crystal Palace. On Friday, Rooney signed a reported £300,000-a-week (Dh1.83 million) deal that keeps him at the club until 2019. And Saturday he connected with Patrice Evra’s pull back in the 68th minute to send a fierce half volley into the top corner. That wrapped up the points for United in a game they rarely dominated. Six minutes earlier, Robin van Persie had converted from the penalty spot to make it 1-0 after Marouane Chamakh had felled Evra in the penalty area.
John Terry scored a 93rd-minute winner as Chelsea snatched a 1-0 victory at home to Everton on Saturday that sent them four points clear at the Premier League summit.
Jose Mourinho’s side looked destined to drop vital points until Terry marked his return to the team after a three-game absence by toeing Frank Lampard’s free-kick past visiting goalkeeper Tim Howard in stoppage time.
Victory means that Chelsea are assured of first place until next weekend at least.
Second-place Arsenal host Sunderland, while third-place City, who now have two games in hand, tackle Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium.
Despite losing January signing Lacina Traore to injury in the warm-up, Everton made a confident start in the sunshine at Stamford Bridge and kept the ball from Chelsea for long periods of the first half.
Leon Osman saw a rising half-volley tipped over the bar by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, while Phil Jagielka glanced a header wide from a Kevin Mirallas cross.
Howard saw some action either side of half-time, saving from Samuel Eto’o and then Lampard, before a shot from Osman flicked off Mirallas and forced Cech into a smart low stop at the other end.
Howard produced an even better save moments later, parrying a low drive from Eden Hazard and then brilliantly springing to his feet to block a ferocious Branislav Ivanovic attempt with his chest.
Chelsea manager Mourinho introduced Fernando Torres and Andre Schuerrle as the hosts pushed for a late breakthrough and saw Ramires lash a 25-yard shot narrowly wide in the 90th minute.
Time looked up for Chelsea, but in the third minute of injury time Terry threw himself at Lampard’s left-wing free-kick and managed to squeeze the ball past Howard.
Terry told BT Sport 1: “Recently dropping points away to West Brom, it’s important to pick up three points at home.
“We’re top of the league and sitting well. It’s down to the others now to catch us.”
There was some confusion as to whom Chelsea’s match-winning goal should be attributed to, but Terry insisted he definitely got a touch on the ball.
“Great ball from Lamps, [I] just managed to get a touch on it and I think it came off [Everton goalkeeper Tim] Howard in the end as well, but [I’m] delighted with the win and the three points,” Terry said. “They made it quite difficult but they’re a very good side and playing well under [Roberto] Martinez and it was a tough game today.”
Everton remain in sixth place in the table, eight points below Liverpool, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualifying place.
Arsenal, fresh from being beaten by reigning European champions Bayern Munich, cruised to a 4-1 victory over Sunderland that took them back to within a point of Chelsea.
The game was all but over by half-time with Olivier Giroud netting twice before Tomas Rosicky made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute.
Arsene Wenger’s men did not stop there and Laurent Koscielny added a fourth before third-bottom Sunderland pulled a late consolation back through Emanuele Giaccherini.
Manchester City, however, did not have it nearly as comfortable against their former manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke.
Looking to bounce back from their European loss to Barcelona, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were frustrated during a goalless first half and were indebted to a 70th-minute strike from Yaya Toure - his 13th league goal of the season - to get the 1-0 win.
City, who play Sunderland in the League Cup final next weekend, remain two points behind Arsenal but have a game in hand.
At the other end of the table, Fulham came within four minutes of a much-needed victory in new manager Felix Magath’s first game in charge, only to have to settle for a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers West Brom.
The Cottagers looked set to climb off the foot of the table after taking a 28th-minute lead through Ashkan Dejagah but they were denied a first victory in eight league and cup games by an 86th-minute equaliser from Matej Vydra.
That goal kept Fulham in last place but they are now only a point behind Cardiff after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were thrashed 4-0 at home by Hull.
Nikica Jelavic notched twice for Steve Bruce’s side, between goals from Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, as Hull moved six points clear of 18th-placed Sunderland .
In the other mid-afternoon kick-off, upwardly-mobile West Ham continued their impressive recent form with 3-1 a home win over Southampton.
Visiting Southampton took an eighth-minute lead through Maya Yoshida but West Ham replied with goals from Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan to secure their fourth successive win.