Dimitar Berbatov took his tally to 17 Premier League goals for the season with a hat-trick as Manchester United FC consolidated their position at the summit with a 5-0 home win against Birmingham City FC.
The former Bulgarian international's third treble of the campaign, which started in the second minute, complemented strikes from Ryan Giggs (45) and Nani (76). The Red Devils are two points ahead of Arsenal FC with a game in hand after their title rivals overcame lowly Wigan Athletic FC 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Robin van Persie (21, 58, 85), who also missed a penalty following Gary Caldwell's dismissal (70).
Manchester City FC could have drawn level with United but succumbed 1-0 at Aston Villa FC to a goal from debutant Darren Bent. Tottenham Hotspur FC, in fifth, lost ground following a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United FC. Kenny Dalglish gained his first victory in his second spell in charge of Liverpool FC, 3-0 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, while Sunderland AFC began the post-Bent era in perfect fashion, triumphing 2-1 at Blackpool FC.
Elsewhere, Everton FC drew 2-2 with ten-man West Ham United FC and Fulham FC beat Stoke City FC, who had Ryan Shawcross (54) sent off, 2-0.