Chelsea and Liverpool continued setting a hot pace at the top of the English Premier League with emphatic away victories on Saturday.
Liverpool briefly went top courtesy of a 2-0 victory at Bolton Wanderers with goals from Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard before Chelsea responded by thrashing bottom club West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at the Hawthorns.
Jose Bosingwa's curling left-foot shot and two goals from Nicolas Anelka had the points in the bag by halftime for Chelsea who set a new Premier League record of 10 consecutive away wins.
They climbed back above Liverpool on goal difference with both clubs on 32 points from 13 matches.
Arsenal's title hopes suffered another blow as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa, Gael Clichy's own goal and Gabriel Agbonlahor's strike condemning the Gunners to a fourth league defeat of the season.
Manchester United moved above Arsenal into third place on 24 points by thumping Stoke City 5-0 at Old Trafford with Cristiano Ronaldo twice on target for the champions, who have a game in hand on their title rivals.
Sunderland jumped from 19th to 11th place with a 2-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers, who drop into the bottom three. Tottenham Hotspur are back in the relegation zone after a 2-1 reverse at Fulham, their first defeat under new manager Harry Redknapp.
Ten-man Wigan Athletic drew 2-2 at Newcastle United while Portsmouth drew 0-0 at West Ham United.
Liverpool fielded a virtual second-string side when losing at Tottenham in the League Cup on Wednesday but were back at full strength as they outclassed Bolton.
Dutchman Kuyt repaid manager Rafa Benitez's decision to start him instead of Fernando Torres with a majestic opener after 28 minutes, craning his neck to head in Fabio Aurelio's cross after a mesmerising spell of possession football.
Robbie Keane should have made it 2-0 before the break but completely missed the ball in front of goal while Bolton were unlucky to have a goal disallowed.
Torres replaced Keane and it was his beautiful cross that allowed Gerrard to glance in Liverpool's second goal with 17 minutes remaining.
"The second goal was crucial and we could have got more, we had two or three very clear chances," said Benitez.
Chelsea, who suffered a shock exit in the League Cup on Wednesday, were too good for West Brom. Bosingwa broke the deadlock after 34 minutes with a stunning strike and Anelka showed a silky touch to chip Scott Carson for the second.
Any hope of a West Brom fightback was scuppered in first half stoppage time when Anelka scored from close range.
Arsenal suffered an off-day at the Emirates against a Villa side pushing hard for a top-four place and manager Arsene Wenger said his side were struggling to stay in the title race.
"If you want to be champions you want to be consistent and at the moment we are not," Wenger said. "Villa played well and deserved to win."
Villa could have been ahead at halftime had Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia not saved Ashley Young's penalty.
The visitors had to wait until the 70th minute to go ahead when Young's cross was headed in by Clichy. As Arsenal pushed for an equaliser, Villa broke away and Agbonlahor raced through to secure his club's first win at Arsenal for 15 years.