Geremi and Didier Drogba scored a goal each Saturday to lead Chelsea to a 2-0 victory over last-place Sunderland -- the defending English Premier League champion's fifth straight win to start the season.
Arsenal, however, lost 2-1 at Middlesbrough, and Manchester United dropped two points with a 1-1 against visiting Manchester City.
Sunderland held Chelsea until the 54th minute when Cameroon midfielder Geremi broke the deadlock at Stamford Bridge. Drogba headed in the second in the 82nd.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who had 17 players away on international duty during the past week, had been worried they would return injured.
"Last season we dropped a lot of points in the matches after the international fixtures, and today I am very happy because we won this game," Mourinho said.
Arsenal, playing without the injured Thierry Henry, trailed 2-0 at Middlesbrough. Aiyegbeni Yakubu scored in the 41st and Italian striker Massimo Maccarone added another in the 59th.
Although Jose Antonio Reyes replied in injury time, it was too late as the Gunners slipped nine points behind Chelsea in eighth place with a game in hand.
Chelsea leads Charlton, which won its fourth straight match and also has maximum points, by three. The Addicks, who host Chelsea next Saturday, won 1-0 at Birmingham through a 15th-minute goal by England striker Darren Bent.
Charlton manager Alan Curbishley, who spent four seasons with Birmingham, said the victory was an ideal way to celebrate his 600th game in charge of the team.
"Let's enjoy it, especially to win it here," Curbishley said. "Winning as well made it a fantastic day."
It was a blank day for Michael Owen on his debut for Newcastle, however.
Although the Magpies scored their first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Fulham, the scorer was French midfielder Charles N'Zogbia. The 19-year-old scored the equalizer in the 78th to cancel out a first-half goal by United States striker Brian McBride.
Joey Barton scored an equalizer in the 76th as Manchester City gained a 1-1 draw at local rival Manchester United, where it has not won in 31 years.
Ruud van Nistelrooy fired the Red Devils ahead just before halftime, but Barton snatched a point for City, which is unbeaten in 13 games going back to last season and now lies third in the standings, one place above its neighbor.
Tottenham and Liverpool each had goals disallowed in a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.
Defending champion Rangers squandered a lead and dropped two more points in the Scottish Premier League title race when it was held to a 1-1 draw by modest Falkirk.
Nacho Novo scored with a penalty six minutes before halftime, but substitute Daniel McBreen scored an equalizer for the home team in the 78th.
The draw leaves Rangers five points behind Hearts, which visits Livingston today.
Hearts' lead was cut to two after Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-0. There were also victories for third-place Kilmarnock and No. 4 Hibernian.
Celtic forward Maciej Zurawski scored the first goal and then set up the second for Stilian Petrov.
Also, Hibs scored a 2-1 victory over Dundee United, Kilmarnock edged Dunfermline 3-2 and Motherwell won 2-1 at Inverness.