LONDON - Arsenal played with the style, pace and confidence of their glory days of nearly a decade ago to crush Norwich City 4-1 and underline their Premier League title credentials at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners, without a trophy since 2005, gave their fans renewed hope that the famine could end this season with Jack Wilshere and substitute Aaron Ramsey scoring outstanding goals as they moved two points clear at the top.
Arsenal's record signing Mesut Ozil also scored his first league two goals for the club he joined for 42.5 million pounds ($68.80 million) from Real Madrid at the start of the season.
Across London, Chelsea beat Cardiff City 4-1 to move into second place but the win was marred by their controversial equaliser which came after Samuel Eto'o kicked the ball away from keeper David Marshall who was bouncing it before clearing.
The ball ran to Belgian forward Eden Hazard who scored to cancel out Cardiff's 10th minute opener.
In the second half referee Anthony Taylor sent Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho from the dugout because the Portuguese continually lambasted the officials complaining Cardiff were time-wasting.
Liverpool slipped one place to third after drawing 2-2 at 10-man Newcastle United, while Manchester City climbed to fourth after winning 3-1 at West Ham United with two goals from Sergio Aguero and a late strike by David Silva.
Champions Manchester United finished the day in eighth place after Southampton scored at the death to force a 1-1 draw and silence the home fans at Old Trafford.
With the top teams having all played eight matches, Arsenal have 19 points, Chelsea and Liverpool 17, with Manchester City on 16. Manchester United are eight points off the pace.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was delighted with their performance and told Sky Sports: "We had periods when we were absolutely outstanding and periods when we suffered as well because Norwich played well and they are a good side.
"But we scored a fantastic first goal and the goals after that were absolutely amazing. We took advantage of Norwich getting tired in the last 20 minutes in a very clinical way. But they made it difficult for us."
Chelsea's win was marred by a hotly disputed goal which brought them back into the game after Eto'o kicked the ball to Hazard as Cardiff keeper Marshall was bouncing it.
Under FIFA laws, the goal should not have stood.
"If that is the case, over the course of the season those things can go for you or against you," Chelsea assistant coach Steve Holland told reporters. "The referee had a very clear view of it and was happy with it, so we move on."
Chelsea fell behind after some woeful defending by their Brazil centre back David Luiz who allowed Jordan Mutch to score.
Luiz's mistake meant Chelsea keeper Petr Cech, making his 300th Premier League appearance, could not mark the occasion with a clean sheet, but that was a minor irritation as the hosts bagged all three points.
Cameroon striker Eto'o, with his first Premier League goal, Oscar and Hazard put the issue beyond doubt with goals in the second half.
Liverpool led the table for a brief spell after their early kick off at Newcastle with skipper Steven Gerrard scoring his 100th league goal by converting a penalty.
Newcastle played for the whole of the second half with 10 men after their French defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was sent off shortly before halftime. Liverpool, although they trailed twice, dominated the depleted home side and deserved more than a point.
Newcastle went ahead with a stunning 25-metre strike from Yohan Cabaye but Gerrard equalised from the spot after Yanga-Mbiwa was sent off for hauling down Luis Suarez.
Newcastle defender Paul Dummett put Newcastle ahead in the 57th minute with his first goal for the club on his second league appearance.
Daniel Sturridge equalised with a header 17 minutes from time, the 126th goal in this fixture, a record tally between any two sides in the Premier League era.
It was a disappointing day for champions Manchester United, who started in ninth place but were expected to beat Southampton despite the visitors standing a lofty fourth in the table.
However United, who lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion in their last home match, slipped up again.
Robin van Persie put them ahead in the 26th minute before the Saints equalised a minute from the end of normal time with a goal claimed by Adam Lallana after initially being credited to Dejan Lovren.
Lallana told Sky Sports: "It hit my legs on the way in, I'm claiming it. It was a great point for us and we could have taken all three."
United boss David Moyes, who has not made the best start since taking over from Alex Ferguson at the beginning of the season, was naturally disappointed with the result.
"We had a few chances to get it wrapped up and to let in a goal in the last couple of minutes is very frustrating, especially as we had the chances to win it," he said.
Gus Poyet's tenure as Sunderland's new manager got off to a terrible start when they were crushed 4-0 at Swansea City, leaving them bottom with one point from eight games.
In other action, Everton beat Hull City 2-1 while Stoke City drew 0-0 with West Brom. Aston Villa host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (1500) while Crystal Palace welcome Fulham on Monday.
($1 = 0.6178 British pounds) (Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by John Mehaffey and Pritha Sarkar)