Manchester - Ten-man Manchester United moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League as Dimitar Berbatov's late goal clinched a 1-0 win over Bolton, while title rivals Arsenal had to settle for a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
With Sir Alex Ferguson watching from the stands as the United boss served the first of his five-match touchline ban, his side's hopes of breaking down an obdurate Bolton defence suffered a blow in the second half when centre-back Jonny Evans was shown a straight red card by referee Andre Marriner for a dangerous tackle on Stuart Holden.
But the leaders produced another of their regular late rallies and Bulgarian forward Berbatov came off the bench to bag the 88th minute winner after Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen spilled Nani's shot.
That dramatic late intervention increased United's lead thanks to Arsenal's latest stumble at the Hawthorns.
Arsene Wenger's side have already lost the League Cup final and crashed out of the Champions League and FA Cup in the last month and now even a win in their game in hand on United would leave them two points off the top.
The second placed Gunners suffered a nightmare start as Steven Reid headed Albion into the lead with a third minute header from Chris Brunt's corner.
Roy Hodgson's side increased their lead after a shambolic piece of defending from Wenger's team in the 58th minute.
Manuel Almunia raced off his line to clear Youssef Mulumbu's ball over the top but the Spanish goalkeeper got in a tangle with his defenders, giving Peter Odemwingie the chance to fire into the empty net from long-range.
But Andrei Arshavin gave Arsenal a lifeline with a stunning strike in the 70th minute.
Arsenal poured forward in search of an equaliser and their pressure paid off in the 78th minute when Robin van Persie converted as he challenged Abdoulaye Meite.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier endured a miserable end to a depressing week as Wolves won 1-0 at Villa Park.
Villa defenders Richard Dunne and James Collins were fined this week for criticising Houllier's coaching staff in a restaurant row.
Neither player featured here as Villa fans unfurled a banner demanded Houllier's sacking.
Matt Jarvis piled on the misery for Houllier when he fired third bottom Wolves ahead with a stunning volley in the 38th minute.
At Ewood Park, Blackburn battled back from two goals down to a salvage a 2-2 draw against local rivals Blackpool.
Charlie Adam put Blackpool ahead with a controversial 25th minute penalty after referee Howard Webb penalised Ryan Nelsen's challenge on Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Scotland midfielder Adam increased Blackpool's advantage four minutes later with a superb free-kick.
But Blackburn defender Christopher Samba reduced the deficit from close-range just after half-time and Junior Hoillett hit the equaliser in the 90th minute.
League Cup winners Birmingham crashed into the relegation zone after losing 2-1 at bottom of the table Wigan.
Alex McLeish's team opened the scoring in the sixth minute when defender Liam Ridgewell smashed in.
But Roberto Martinez's side levelled in the 25th minute through a tap-in from on-loan Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.
And the hosts boosted their survival bid when Maynor Figueroa struck in the 90th minute.
Stoke cruised to a 4-0 victory over Newcastle at the Britannia Stadium.
Tony Pulis's team broke the deadlock when Jonathan Walters met Jermaine Pennant's cross with a powerful finish in the 28th minute.
Newcastle, with Sol Campbell struggling in defence, fell further behind in the 46th minute when Pennant struck for the hosts.
Danny Higginbotham put the result beyond doubt three minutes later as the Stoke defender drove home a free-kick and Ricardo Fuller netted in the 90th minute.
In the day's early kick-off, West Ham rode their luck to escape with a 0-0 draw against London rivals Tottenham that moved them out of the bottom three.
Avram Grant's side gave a gritty display at White Hart Lane, but they needed some good fortune to avoid defeat as Tottenham hit the woodwork three times through Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale.