Manchester United put the pressure back on Chelsea after easily beating Sheffield United 2-0 on Tuesday in the Premier League.
Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick scored a goal each to give United a six-point lead over two-time defending champion Chelsea, which played at West Ham yesterday.
Arsenal moved into third place, at least temporarily, with a 3-1 win over Manchester City. Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas and Julio Baptista all scored for Arsenal.
Carrick, who scored two goals in United's 7-1 rout of Roma last week in the Champions League, chipped the ball into the net from close range in the fourth minute after a perfect through pass from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rooney doubled the lead in the 51st with a strike from inside the area after a long pass from Ryan Giggs. The England striker controlled the ball with his toe after running past two defenders and then beat Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
"Michael's first one is a great run, beautiful pass from Cristiano and a nice dink over the goalkeeper," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "The second goal was a marvelous strike."
Rooney nearly scored another in the sixth minute but his left-footed shot went into the chest of Kenny after a nice move to get around a defender.
Ronaldo had two chances for United in the second half, but Kenny made a diving save to deny him in the 63rd, and the Portugal winger's shot a minute later was blocked by the defense.
"We saved our legs well and I think that was a sensible thing to do," Ferguson said. "The performance was ... economical. We didn't kill ourselves."
Luton Shelton had Sheffield United's best chance in the 68th, but Gabriel Heinze made a tackle from behind, which television replays appeared to indicate a foul. In the 88th, Michael Tonge hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the area.
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock said that Heinze's tackle was a penalty and that the referee was out of position.
"Between the two of them, him and his linesman, they've got to get decisions like that," Warnock said. "We're not asking for anything other than what we deserve."
United, which leads the league with 81 points, is trying to win three major trophies this season, while Chelsea is aiming for four.
United played with Tomasz Kuszczak in goal because regular starter Edwin van der Sar took a blow to the nose against Watford on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-finals.
United's defensive worries also increased when Patrice Evra was taken off injured in the 20th. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Gary Neville, John O'Shea and Mikael Silvestre have all been injured recently.
Sheffield United, which is in 17th place with 34 points and trying to avoid relegation, stretched its losing streak away from home to eight.
Arsenal's win pushed it into third place with 62 points.
Rosicky put Arsenal in the lead with his second goal in four days. Emmanuel Eboue sent in a cross from the right and the Czech Republic midfielder volleyed it into the net in the 12th.
DaMarcus Beasley equalized for City in the 41st after a poor clearance from Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. The US midfielder took a pass from Michael Johnson and shot the ball into the far corner.
Joey Barton had another chance for City late in the first half but Lehmann pushed his shot away.
In the second half, Fabregas scored from 25m in the 73rd and Baptista made it 3-1 in the 80th from an Alexander Hleb cross. Reuters, BERLIN