London:Arsenal and Manchester United stayed neck-and-neck in the Premier League title race with victories, pushing both Chelsea and Liverpool back into the chasing pack and opening up a healthy lead.
William Gallas scored Arsenal's winning goal against his former club in a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium, and Carlos Tevez's first-half goal gave United a 1-0 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield.
The two meetings of the four heavyweights of English football threw up the strong possibility that they would wind up tightly squeezed at the top.
Instead, Arsenal leads Manchester United by one point and third-place Chelsea by six. Liverpool is 10 points off the lead in fifth place with a game in hand and, once more, the team may have to concentrate on other titles.
Liverpool has not won the title since 1990 and 10 points is a lot to make up on such powerful rivals even with more than half of the season to go.
"There's nothing decisive but Liverpool, of course, has lost many points at home this season and they need to come back," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose Gunners beat Chelsea in the league for the first time in three seasons.
"But they're still in it. Chelsea as well have shown today they have the strength to fight for the championship. And at the moment the most consistent are Man United and Arsenal."
The only goal at the Emirates Stadium came in the second minute of first-half injury when Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech left his line and failed to reach a corner that Gallas headed home at the far post.
Although Chelsea pressed hard for an equaliser in the second half, Arsenal held out in a stormy game in which several players were involved in off-the-ball pushing and Chelsea captain John Terry left the field with a foot injury.
"Our defence was outstanding today," Wenger said. "Not only did they keep a clean sheet but they scored the goal as well. Overall, I felt it was a great football game."
Chelsea manager Avram Grant, who was given a four-year contract by the Blues on Friday, believed a draw would have been fair.
"We deserved a goal but we lost the game," he said. "We had chances to make it 1-1 and who knows at 1-1 because in the second half we played better. In the last 10 minutes, we left counter-attacks because we had to go with a lot of players forward. We deserved more but we lost the game so we are looking forward."
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson captured his sixth Premier League triumph over Rafa Benitez in seven meetings, the other result being a draw.
"Games between the top sides are going to be important this year and that's an important win for us," said Ferguson, whose team has captured nine Premier League titles since the last of Liverpool's record 18 championship triumphs in 1990.
"It's going to be a long struggle and fight right through the season. If we get to New Year's Day at the top or just about then we have an outstanding chance to retain the title."
The loss leaves Liverpool nine points behind United. That puts the pressure back on Benitez, who has had disputes with the club's American owners over his cash demands to bring in new players.
"We know we needed to win this game if we wanted to be closer," Benitez said. "Now for me, we know it's a long way so we have to keep going.
"Clearly, it will be harder. If we are going to get closer we need to start winning some games in a row. Every team can lose points, so I have the same confidence to keep going and try and keep winning."
The only goal came three minutes before half-time when Liverpool failed to react to a well-worked United corner.
Wayne's Rooney was unmarked when he shot from outside the area and the ball came to Tevez, who had time and space to stab the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Liverpool's loss means it stays fifth behind Manchester City, which beat Bolton 4-2 on Saturday and has 33 points, seven behind Arsenal.