By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Arsenal returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 win over Birmingham to close the gap on leaders Chelsea, who beat Newcastle 4-0 earlier on Saturday, back to five points.
There were also wins for Everton and Manchester United against Bolton and Southampton respectively, although in very contrasting ways, to ensure the status quo at the top of the table was maintained.
Arsenal were always in control once they had assumed the lead through Robert Pires on 33 minutes.
The winger reacted quickly after seeing his own cross to Freddie Ljungberg break on the edge of the box and drilled a low shot past Maik Taylor for his 50th Premiership goal for The Gunners.
Arsene Wenger's men endured a couple of hairy moments - notably when debutant Manuel Almunia almost allowed a Clinton Morrison shot to squirm past him and into the net - but made the game safe when Thierry Henry capped a trademark run on goal from the left with a cool finish.
The Frenchman added a gloss to the scoreline four minutes from time by nodding home Freddie Ljungberg's cross from close range.
Chelsea cruised to victory earlier in the day with a 4-0 thumping of Newcastle, although The Magpies were not really deserving of such a resounding scoreline and were still well in the game until Frank Lampard opened the scoring just past the hour mark.
Didier Drogba confirmed his return to fitness with a well-taken second after a fine Lampard pass, and Arjen Robben continued his scintillating form by coolly notching a third following a powerful run.
The icing on Chelsea's cake was provided by Mateja Kezman who cheekily chipped home a penalty for his first Premiership goal after Shay Given had bundled over Damien Duff.
Everton remain third after an entertaining but controversial 3-2 victory over Bolton in which they were twice forced to come from behind.
Kevin Davies put the visitors ahead when he blasted home after Nigel Martyn's weak punch from a corner.
Everton restored parity when Duncan Ferguson rose to power home a trademark header from Alessandro Pistone's cross.
Davies put The Trotters back ahead with a superb looping header from Nicky Hunt's back-post cross, but Everton responded when Thomas Gravesen smashed home a twice-taken free-kick from the edge of the box - much to the annoyance of Sam Allardyce.
The Bolton chief was left even more exasperated five minutes from time when Radhi Jaidi sliced an innocuous-looking Leon Osman shot into his own net to hand the hosts all three points.
Manchester United had to wait until the second period to open their account at Old Trafford, but shortly after the interval Paul Scholes was on hand to nod home a Rio Ferdinand centre after Saints had failed to clear a corner.
A second soon followed when Wayne Rooney emphatically beat Kasey Keller after being slipped in by Ryan Giggs.
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a late third with a well-struck volley from Gary Neville's cross, but in truth it could have been a lot worse for the visitors.
Liverpool and Aston Villa shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.
Harry Kewell edged Liverpool in front when he nodded home Jamie Carragher's knock-back from Steven Gerrard's far-post free-kick.
Villa levelled on the stroke of half-time when Nolberto Solano fired home a 25-yard free-kick, although Chris Kirkland could arguably have done better as the ball sailed in above his head.
Fulham took three very welcome points at Norwich courtesy of a solitary Andy Cole strike.
The hit-man finished clinically after being played in by a neat flick from Brian McBride, although it was a borderline decision as to whether Cole was onside.
West Brom are still looking for their first away win of the campaign after a last-gasp 3-2 defeat at Portsmouth.
The sides traded unnecessary own goals as Dejan Stefanovic deflected home a Neil Clement cross-cum-shot, before Darren Purse produced an arguably worst mistake to clumsily knock home a centre from Stefanovic on 35 minutes.
The poor defending continued when ten minutes later Riccardo Scimeca took advantage of a mix-up between Matthew Taylor and Jamie Ashdown to set-up Robert Earnshaw for a tap-in.
However, in a dramatic finale Pompey staged an incredible fightback to emerge victorious.
Firstly captain Arjan De Zeeuw thumped home a header to drag his side level and, with West Brom still reeling, Eyal Berkovic delightfully played in Lomana Tresor Lua Lua to claim the winner.
In the late game Tottenham emerged as 1-0 winners against Blackburn Rovers.
Robbie Keane grabbed the only goal of a tight game, benefiting from Michael Brown's tenacious run.
Click below for individual Premiership match reports:
| Chelsea|| 4-0|| Newcastle|
| Arsenal|| 3-0|| Birmingham|
| Aston Villa|| 1-1|| Liverpool|
| Everton|| 3-2|| Bolton|
| Man United|| 3-0|| Southampton|
| Norwich|| 0-1|| Fulham|
| Portsmouth|| 3-2|| West Brom|
| Blackburn|| 0-1|| Tottenham|