Champions Manchester United crashed to a second home Premier League defeat in four days when they lost 1-0 to Newcastle United on Saturday while Jose Mourinho's Chelsea suffered a shock 3-2 loss at Stoke City.
Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool climbed to second with a 4-1 romp over West Ham United at Anfield and Manchester City slipped one place to fourth after being held 1-1 at Southampton.
Tottenham Hotspur rekindled their challenge by winning 2-1 at Sunderland while leaders Arsenal, who still have a four-point lead at the top, entertain Everton at The Emirates on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger's side have 34 points ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea on 30, Manchester City (29), Everton and Tottenham (27) and Newcastle (26). Sunderland stay bottom with eight points.
Norwich City won 2-0 at West Bromwich Albion while Crystal Palace picked up their second successive victory under new manager Tony Pulis with a 2-0 home win over Cardiff City.
Newcastle's victory was their first at Old Trafford since February, 1972, while Stoke ended Chelsea's run of three wins and enjoyed their first league success against them since 1975.
Manchester United manager David Moyes, without suspended England striker Wayne Rooney, made seven changes to the team beaten by Everton on Wednesday but witnessed a forlorn display.
Newcastle's French midfielder Yohan Cabaye struck the only goal with a controlled 10-metre shot after 61 minutes, condemning the hosts to back-to-back home defeats for the first since May 2002. It was also Moyes' third loss as manager in eight games at Old Trafford.
Alan Pardew, who has guided Newcastle to five wins in six league games on their climb to sixth place, plotted a perfect plan for his improving team who subdued their hosts, controlled possession and seized victory in style.
"It's one of the top moments for me in my time here - it's been 41 years we've been waiting," he told BT Sport television. "It was a magnificent performance. I know we won't get the headlines because of United and poor old David Moyes.
"But we deserve them because our players were magnificent. I asked them to play differently today, to keep the ball, and we did that. We made it difficult for them and it's a great day for us."
Uruguay striker Suarez continued his devastating form for Liverpool, scoring one goal and creating another as they overcame West Ham, who also conceded two own goals.
Mamadou Sakho, supplied by captain Steven Gerrard, scored the other for Liverpool while home defender Martin Skrtel also put through his own net for West Ham's reply.
Chelsea led thanks to German forward Andre Schuerrle after 10 minutes at the Britannia Stadium but squandered two more clear openings before Stoke recovered to level through Peter Crouch before the interval.
Stephen Ireland then fired Stoke in front before Schuerrle made it 2-2 to set up a dramatic finale in which Stoke's Moroccan midfielder Oussama Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, struck a 90th minute winner.
"I don't feel comfortable enough to tell you what I think about the game," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "I prefer to be simple and pragmatic... I can't analyse with you certain aspects of this game.
"We're in trouble. It is a concern. I don't like it. I don't organise my teams to be like this - sometimes mistakes kill an organisation."
At Southampton, free-scoring Argentine striker Sergio Aguero put Manchester City ahead after 10 minutes with a deft 10-metre finish for his 18th goal of the season in all competitions.
But Southampton, who had lost their three previous league games, fought back and a fine individual strike by Pablo Osvaldo brought them level after 42 minutes.
"I am pleased with a point because it was a very close match. We lost control," City manager Manuel Pellegrini told reporters. "Southampton are a good team and if you give them the ball, they have dangerous players."
Spurs recovered from an early strike by Sunderland's England winger Adam Johnson with goals from Brazil midfielder Paulinho and John O'Shea, in his own net, to win at the Stadium of Light.
It was their second win in four days and eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas Boas. "That's a massive result for us," said defender Michael Dawson. "That was a good performance and we showed our spirit and the unity we have in our team."