First half goals from Martin Petrov and Carlos Tevez gave Manchester City a 2-0 win against Stoke City at Eastlands and earned Roberto Mancini maximum points on his bow as the club's new manager.
The win allowed the Blues to put a turbulent week behind them, but troublesome £32.5 million record signing Robinho remained disappointing and missed a great chance to open the scoring.
Mancini was indebted to two superb saves from goalkeeper Shay Given to deny Tuncay and James Beattie as City consolidated their place in the top six and edged to within three points of third place.
Liverpool eventually came out on top as they battled to a 2-0 victory over Wolves at Anfield.
The Reds had struggled to create clear opportunities in the first half but, after Wolves went down to ten men as Stephen Ward picked up his second yellow card in the 53rd minute, Steven Gerrard headed home the opener before Yossi Benayoun rounded off the scoring with a deflected shot from inside the box.
A string of saves from England goalkeeper Joe Hart helped keep Chelsea at bay as Birmingham City claimed a 0-0 draw against the Premier League leaders at St Andrews.
Despite the visitors' domination it was Birmingham who had the ball in the net, only to see Cristian Benitez's first-half effort ruled out for a borderline offside.
Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea are five points clear at the top the table but have won just once in the last seven games. Following Monday's clash with Fulham, Ancelotti will lose Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Michael Essien and John Mikel Obi to the African Cup of Nations.
To make matters worse, Flourent Malouda was sent off for two bookable offences and will be suspended for one match.
Meanwhile, West Ham United striker Alessandro Diamanti scored his third goal in as many games as the relegation-threatened Hammers beat bottom club Portsmouth 2-0 in Boxing Day's basement battle.
The Italian struck from the penalty spot at Upton Park midway through the first half of a match short on quality, clear-cut opportunities or reasons to suggest either team deserve to be higher in the table. Radoslav Kovac added the second just before the end.
Tottenham Hotspur escaped Craven Cottage with a point after Fulham failed to capitalise on their superiority in an entertaining 0-0 draw.
Spurs had Heurelho Gomes to thank for keeping them in contention with the Brazilian keeper making a string of fine saves. In the second half alone he kept out goalbound efforts from Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora, while Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera also went close.
David Nugent's second-half leveller maintained Burnley's excellent home record and earned a point for the Clarets with a 1-1 draw against Bolton Wanderers.
On loan from Portsmouth, Nugent headed home a cross from Wade Elliott in the 56th minute. Bolton had earlier made the breakthrough in the 29th minute through Matt Taylor's superb free-kick but failed to hold on to their lead.
Marouane Fellaini secured a fourth successive draw for Everton with a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 tie at Sunderland. The Belgian snatched a point with an emphatic 85th-minute finish to deny the Black Cats a first league victory in six attempts.
Darren Bent had put the home side in front when he headed home Kenwyne Jones' 17th-minute cross, but Steve Bruce's men were once again unable to hang on to a lead.
Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium which did nothing to improve either side's fortunes.
Benni McCarthy's first Premier League goal of the season put the visitors ahead in the 30th minute only for Hugo Rodallega's 53rd-minute header to level things up. Wigan have now won just one of the last eight league matches, with Blackburn enjoying victory only once in seven.