West Ham and Wolves are starting to see a gap develop between themselves and the rest of the Premier League after defeats this weekend.
The Irons failed to build on a solid first-half performance against Newcastle, woeful defending letting in Andy Carroll to head in the winner unchallenged from six yards.
With Matthew Upson unable to complete the 90 minutes and Manuel da Costa perhaps distracted by off-field events, Avram Grant will need to act fast to shore up a back-line which has leaked 17 goals in the first eight games of the season.
Wolves can be more pleased with their performance, giving Chelsea a run for their money before slipping to a 2-0 defeat thanks to goals from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou.
They tested Petr Cech on a number of occasions, and things are looking up after Stephen Hunt played 45 minutes on his return from injury.
The other team in the bottom three, Liverpool, started what they hope will be a speedy ascent of the table with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos has now doubled his goalscoring tally from last season, and while his opener was quickly cancelled out by a Jamie Carragher own goal, Fernando Torres restored the Anfield club’s lead and earned them their second win of the season.
Liverpool’s only other victory was against West Brom, who kept up their strong recent form by coming from behind to beat Fulham.
Mark Hughes’ side opened the scoring through a Scott Carson own goal, but Youssuf Mulumbu drew the scores level with his first goal of the season and Marc-Antoine Fortune ignored Fulham’s offside appeals to slot home the winner and take Albion fourth on Saturday night.
On Sunday, however, wins for Manchester United and Arsenal saw them leapfrog Roberto di Matteo’s men and move back into the Champions League places.
Arsenal’s victory was the more impressive, although the 3-0 scoreline against Man City was helped somewhat by opposing defender Dedryck Boyata receiving a red card after just five minutes.
The Gunners made the most of their man advantage, with Cesc Fabregas pulling the strings, and the Spaniard could even afford to miss a penalty.
United, meanwhile, left it late to make sure of all three points at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium. Chicharito opened the scoring with a brilliantly-improvised header, only for Tuncay to draw Stoke level with a finish right out of the top drawer.
But Mexican striker Chicharito had the last word, diverting Patrice Evra’s wayward shot beyond Thomas Sorensen with four minutes to play.
Tottenham slipped out of the top four after being held to a 1-1 draw by an Everton side now unbeaten in four games.
Leighton Baines’ early free-kick was cancelled out by a close-range Rafael van der Vaart strike, but neither team could find the crucial second goal.
1-1 was also the final score at the DW Stadium, with Johan Elmander rescuing a point for Bolton against Wigan.
Hugo Rodallega opened the scoring for the Latics after being played through by Franco di Santo, but Elmander reacted quickest in a goalmouth scramble to poke home the leveller.
The remaining Lancashire club, Blackpool, slipped to a demoralising 2-0 defeat against an often shot-shy Birmingham outfit at St Andrews.
Ian Holloway admitted to being out-thought by opposing number Alex McLeish as goals from Liam Ridgewell and Nikola Zigic condemned ‘Pool to their fifth reverse of the campaign.
The final game of the weekend saw Sunderland preserve their unbeaten home record with a narrow win over Aston Villa.
An own goal from Richard Dunne was all that separated the sides, a Premier League record eighth for the Irish centre-back.
Team of the week (4-5-1)
Fabianski (Arsenal); Bosingwa (Chelsea), Tamas (West Brom), Kyrgiakos (Liverpool), Baines (Everton); Morrison (West Brom), Tiote (Newcastle), Fabregas (Arsenal), Mulumbu (West Brom), Hleb (Birmingham); Hernandez (Man Utd)