Andre Villas-Boas saw the pressure on his shoulders increase significantly as Chelsea suffered a shock 1-0 defeat away to West Brom, with Arsenal snatching a last-gasp success at Liverpool and Manchester City moving five points clear at the top by seeing off Bolton.
QPR came from behind to draw 1-1 with Everton, with Blackburn doing the same in their home contest against Aston Villa, while Swansea held on to defeat Wigan despite being reduced to 10 men in the second period and Stoke overcame Norwich.
The spotlight will remain firmly fixed on under-fire Chelsea boss Villas-Boas in the coming days as his lacklustre Blues side slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to West Brom, leaving them three points adrift of fourth place.
The Portuguese has had to fend off constant questions over his future in recent weeks and can expect the interrogation to continue after some limp defending from the West London giants allowed Gareth McAuley to poke home eight minutes from time as the Baggies claimed a third successive victory.
Frank Lampard, whose relationship with the former Porto boss is less than rosy, had the chance to snatch a point in the closing moments, but the Blues captain could only divert Ashley Cole's whipped low cross wide of Ben Foster's far post.
Robin van Persie delivered what could prove to be a fatal blow to Liverpool's UEFA Champions League hopes as his stunning late winner secured a 2-1 success for Arsenal at Anfield.
The Reds dominated the opening stages and took the lead through Laurent Koscielny's comical own goal, only to squander a host of chances with Wojciech Szczesny in inspired form, particularly to deny Dirk Kuyt from the penalty spot.
Van Persie made them pay a heavy price when he headed Arsene Wenger's men level shortly after the half-hour mark and, with the game deep into stoppage-time following a worrying injury for Mikel Arteta after he collided with Jordan Henderson, the in-form Dutchman volleyed home.
Manchester City's perfect home form in the Premier League continued as they recorded their 14th successive triumph at the Etihad Stadium, brushing aside struggling Bolton to move further clear of Manchester United, who face a testing trip to Tottenham on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini's men, who dominated throughout but failed to make the most of a host of chances, forged ahead in the 23rd minute when Gael Clichy's ambitious left-foot effort with the angle against him took a crucial deflection off Gretar Steinsson and left the unfortunate Adam Bogdan with no chance.
Darren Pratley came close to scoring a spectacular own goal when his challenge on Edin Dzeko some 25 yards from goal ended up with the ball striking his own bar, before Mario Balotelli again proved his on-field abilities are worth any off-field antics as he made it 2-0 in the 69th minute after good work from Adam Johnson.
QPR snapped a run of three successive top-flight defeats as they came from behind to take a point against Everton at Loftus Road.
Royston Drenthe put the Toffees ahead in the 31st minute with a precision low shot from outside the box, only for Bobby Zamora to level soon after as he headed home at the near post with Tim Howard only able to divert it into his own net.
The Rs, who managed to keep 11 men on the field after their recent spate of red cards, then witnessed an astonishing miss from Akos Buzsaky as he hit the post from close range with only Howard to beat, seconds after Adel Taarabt had struck the opposite upright.
The continuing protests from Blackburn supporters against owners Venky's and manager Steve Kean do not seem to have quelled the spirit of Rovers, who remain only in the drop zone on goal difference after battling back to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa.
Charles N'Zogbia put the visitors in front midway through the first period and Alex McLeish must have felt he was on course for a victory which would have quietened the dissenting voices from the Villa faithful, only for David Dunn to head home Bradley Orr's cross with just five minutes left on the clock.
Wigan remain at the foot of the Premier League table as Roberto Martinez saw his former club Swansea leave the DW Stadium with all three points, despite playing almost a third of the contest with 10 men.
Gylfi Sigurdsson broke the deadlock in added time at the end of the first half as he fired the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box after being found by Steven Caulker.
And the Iceland midfielder doubled their advantage early in the second period when he curled a peach of a free-kick around the Wigan wall and beyond the helpless Ali Al Habsi.
The Swans were a man down when Andre Marriner very harshly dismissed Nathan Dyer with the diminutive winger accidentally catching Jordi Gomez as the Wigan man beat him to the ball by a fraction of a second, but the Latics could not find a way back into the contest.
Stoke clambered up the standings to eighth in the table courtesy of their 1-0 home success over Norwich City at the Britannia Stadium.
Matt Etherington scored the only goal of the game 18 minutes from time after being found by substitute Cameron Jerome's header, with a finish which Canaries keeper John Ruddy may feel he should have done better with.