London:Wayne Rooney scored his eighth goal in seven matches to lead Manchester United to a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough and first place in the Premier League.
Portugal winger Nani put United ahead in the third minute with a long-range shot and Jeremie Aliadiere equalized three minutes later. Rooney put United back in front and Carlos Tevez scored twice as United hit four goals in a fourth straight match, a feat it last achieved 100 years ago.
United's eighth straight Premier League win took the defending champion top of the standings because Arsenal wasn't in action until Sunday, when it was set to play Liverpool.
Didier Drogba scored twice as Chelsea secured its biggest ever Premier League win and moved up to fourth place Saturday with a 6-0 victory over Manchester City.
Reading beat visiting Newcastle 2-1, Birmingham twice came from a goal down to beat visiting Wigan 3-2, and Fulham won 1-0 at Sunderland.
United attacked Boro from the start at Old Trafford and Nani was allowed to run into the visitors' half before hitting a dipping shot from 30 meters (yards) over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
It was Nani's second goal since he joined from Sporting Lisbon in the offseason and the first, against Tottenham in August, was also a fierce long-range shot.
Middlesbrough equalized in the sixth when Aliadiere headed in a cross by Tuncay Sanli to become the first visiting player to score at Old Trafford this season.
Rooney responded for United by hitting a free kick into the defensive wall before making it 2-1. Boro winger Stewart Downing gave the ball away to Nani, and the Portugal international passed to Rooney, who hit a shot past Schwarzer.
Carlos Tevez made the game safe in the 55th, passing to Rooney, getting the ball back from a back heel, and scoring. With five minutes left, the Argentina striker made sure United matched its feat of the 1907-08 season by hitting his team's fourth goal to take his season tally to four.
Arsenal can retake the lead if it avoids defeat at Liverpool on Sunday. The Gunners are unbeaten this season and on a 12-match winning streak in all competitions, including Tuesday's 7-0 win over Sparta Prague in the Champions League.
Also Sunday, Tottenham plays its first game since firing manager Martin Jol when it hosts Blackburn, Everton is at Derby, and Bolton hosts Aston Villa.
Frank Lampard set up three goals Saturday as Chelsea handed third-place Manchester City its third away loss of the season.
Michael Essien put Chelsea ahead at Stamford Bridge in the 16th with a shot past goalkeeper Joe Hart following a through ball from Lampard.
Lampard then hit a ball from halfway to Drogba in the area in the 30th and the Ivory Coast striker eluded defender Micah Richards to shoot into the net.
Drogba scored again in the 56th with a low volley after Hart saved an initial shot by Lampard. Drogba then set up Joe Cole for a 60th-minute goal, Salomon Kalou hit a shot through Hart's legs, and Andriy Shevchenko rounded off the scoring in the 90th.
Newcastle missed the chance to take fifth place when it lost at Reading. Dave Kitson put the home side ahead in the 53rd and, although the Magpies drew level through an own-goal from Michael Duberry, and Shane Long hit an 84th-minute winner.
"We've got the goal, we've come back into it, we've looked like were going to get the chance to maybe score again, and we've just killed ourselves," Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce said. "It was because of the pressure from Reading."
Birmingham twice trailed to goals by Wigan striker Marcus Bent but Olivier Kapo hit his second goal of the game with a left-foot shot through a defender's legs and past goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the 81st to give the home side victory.
Kenwyne Jones hit an 86th-minute equalizer, scoring for the third straight match, as Sunderland drew 1-1 with Fulham, while West Ham was at Portsmouth later Saturday.
Bristol City strengthened its hold on second place in the League Championship with a 1-0 win over Stoke, while Wolves dropped to fifth after a 3-0 loss at Ipswich that ended its three-match winning streak. West Brom took over third place with a 2-0 win over Norwich, while Ipswich went fourth.