Juan Mata’s double helped leaders Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in a captivating London derby on Saturday and Wayne Rooney and Edin Dzeko both struck twice to keep Manchester United and Manchester City in hot pursuit.
Spaniard Mata crushed former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas’s hopes of Premier League victory against the club that sacked him in March with a scintillating display at White Hart Lane, scoring twice in three minutes after the break to end a stirring Tottenham revival.
Rooney marked the 10th anniversary of his wonder-goal for Everton against Arsenal as a 16-year-old with an eventful afternoon at Old Trafford.
His own goal gave Stoke City an early lead but he made amends at the right end as a rampant United ran out 4-2 winners.
Unbeaten Chelsea have 22 points from eight games, four more than United and champions City who looked in trouble when they trailed 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion after James Milner was sent off.
Dzeko then came off the bench to win it for Roberto Mancini’s side – the second of his goals coming in stoppage time.
Arsenal can go fourth with victory at Norwich City later.
Liverpool beat Reading 1-0, their first home league win of the season. West Ham United thumped Southampton 4-1, Swansea City defeated Wigan Athletic 2-1 while Fulham also enjoyed a home victory, 1-0 against struggling Aston Villa.
After the build-up to Chelsea’s trip to Spurs was focused on skipper John Terry’s four-game FA ban for racially insulting Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, it was replacement Gary Cahill who set the ball rolling for his side.
Cahill struck a thunderous volley to put Chelsea ahead after 17 minutes, latching on to William Gallas’s poor header.
Former Chelsea defender Gallas hit back by glancing in a close-range header two minutes after the interval before Jermain Defoe’s opportunist strike put Tottenham 2-1 ahead.
Defoe’s 200th career goal was a footnote to a great game, however, as Mata took control.
Another poor clearance by Gallas fell to Mata in the 66th minute and he took a touch before burying a shot past Brad Friedel and three minutes later Eden Hazard’s astute pass allowed him to beat the American goalkeeper again.
Mata then set up substitute Daniel Sturridge to cap an impressive display from pacesetters Chelsea who have achieved back-to-back away victories at Arsenal and Tottenham.
“It was only the 10 or 12 minutes early in the second half that Tottenham got back in the game. We lost a bit of control but for the rest of the game we took the initiative,” Di Matteo told Sky Sports television.
“It was a test of our character today, coming here against a team in form who had four consecutive wins. It was a big derby for us, especially after the international break there are always a few question marks but the answers we gave were perfect.”
At Old Trafford, Rooney was joined on the United scoresheet by Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck but while manager Alex Ferguson praised the trio he was less than pleased with defender Rio Ferdinand who refused to wear an anti-racism tee-shirt in the pre-match warm-up.
Ferdinand was one of several players around the country not to support the ‘Kick It Out’ awareness day in the light of the Terry saga and events in Serbia this week when England’s under 21s were racially abused by fans.
“I spoke to the press about this yesterday. It is embarrassing for me. He will be dealt with, no doubt about that,” said Ferguson.
Dzeko is proving a super-sub this season for City.
Mancini’s team were heading for defeat when the Bosnian was introduced. He equalised after 80 minutes and then, after City keeper Joe Hart had kept his side ahead, finished off a superb breakaway by the visitors to seal an unlikely victory.