Frank Lampard scored four times to lead Chelsea in a 7-1 thrashing of Aston Villa that turned the screw in the English Premier League football title race.
As Lampard took his goalscoring tally for the club to 151, Florent Malouda added two and Salomon Kalou also joined in the fun as Carlo Ancelotti's side roared above Manchester United, who play at Bolton Wanderers later, at the top.
Behind them, third-placed Arsenal conceded a late equaliser at Birmingham City to lose ground -- a mistake by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia proving costly for the Gunners who had taken the lead in the 81st minute through Samir Nasri.
Chelsea have 71 points from 32 games with United on 69 and Arsenal a further point back.
Tottenham Hotspur consolidated fourth place with a 2-nil win at home to Portsmouth.
West Ham United's woes continued with a 1-nil home defeat by Stoke City that leaves them out of the relegation zone on goal difference after Hull City beat Fulham 2-nil.
Everton drew nil-all with Wolverhampton Wanderers.