Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win over struggling Crystal Palace to go top of the Premier League and champions Manchester United continued their recent revival with a 1-0 victory at Norwich City on Saturday.
With leaders Arsenal not playing until Sunday, Edin Dzeko’s 66th-minute goal earned the points for City who maintained their perfect home record this season but showed none of their usual free-scoring swagger at the Etihad Stadium.
“I think the team that wants to win the title must have different faces,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC.
“We usually score lots of goals at home, but after 45 minutes we knew it would not be like that.”
Mid-table Hull City hammered relegation-threatened Fulham 6-0, Aston Villa struggled again in a 1-1 home draw with fellow mid-table team Swansea City and West Ham United were held 3-3 by drop zone rivals West Bromwich Albion in a thrilling early kickoff at Upton Park.
Pellegrini made six changes to the side that overcame Liverpool 2-1 on Thursday, while Tony Pulis selected the same Palace team that started their 1-0 win at Villa on the same afternoon.
Palace unexpectedly took the game to City and it needed a string of saves from England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who suffered a gashed face in a first-half clash with striker Jerome Cameron, to prevent a shock result.
Pellegrini made a double substitution, bringing on French forward Samir Nasri and Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo shortly before Dzeko struck.
Jesus Navas made room and crossed from the right for Bosnian Dzeko to turn and shoot into the roof of the net from 15 metres.
Manchester United struggled initially at Norwich, surviving a first-half onslaught before taking control. Manager David Moyes made five changes to the side that won 3-2 at Hull, leaving England striker Wayne Rooney out of the squad completely, but substitute Danny Welbeck’s 57th-minute strike registered their 21st away goal in the league this season.