Rooney strikes power United to top of the heap

Rooney strikes power United to top of the heap

Chelsea lose to Everton; Arsenal win

Manchester United went top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Liverpool, during which the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra racism row reignited, while Chelsea dropped out of the top four.

red hot: Man United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring against Liverpool. AFP

Arsenal made the most of another Chelsea slip-up to climb to fourth after coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 thanks to Thierry Henry's stoppage-time winner.

Chelsea lost 2-0 at Everton to pile more pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas whose training sessions have been closely monitored by Russian owner Roman Abramovich this week.

United's victory over their arch rivals at Old Trafford, courtesy of two Wayne Rooney goals, was marred by Liverpool striker Suarez's refusal to shake hands with United defender Evra before the match.

It was the first time the two players had met since Suarez, who scored a consolation goal for the visitors, was banned for eight matches for racially abusing the United defender in October's reverse fixture at Anfield.

The snub had United manager Alex Ferguson branding Suarez a "disgrace to Liverpool". The win lifted the champions a point above Manchester City before Roberto Mancini's men travel to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Last season's runners-up Chelsea lost for the sixth time to slide out of the Champions League spots.

A goal in each half from Everton pair Steven Pienaar and Denis Stracqualursi means Chelsea have now won only two of their last 10 league games.

Waiting to capitalise on Chelsea's misfortune were Arsenal, whose day looked to be heading the same way when they went behind to a 70th-minute James McClean goal at Sunderland.

The visitors pulled level five minutes later when Aaron Ramsey picked up the ball on the edge of the box and shot home.

Henry also came off the bench and he volleyed the last-gasp winner in his final league game.

Victory lifted Arsenal above Chelsea on goal difference with 43 points from 25 matches. United lead with 58 points, one more than City and eight above third-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

At the other end of the table, Blackburn Rovers stayed in the relegation zone on goal difference despite a 3-2 win at home to Queens Park Rangers.

In another game between two struggling sides, Wigan Athletic got the better of local rivals Bolton Wanderers with a 2-1 victory at the Reebok stadium.

Wigan stay bottom with 19 points but made up some ground on the other relegation battlers with second-from-bottom Bolton on 20 and Blackburn, QPR and Wolverhampton Wanderers on 21.

Norwich City rose to eighth after two goals from Grant Holt helped them to a 3-2 win at fellow promoted side Swansea City while Fulham beat Stoke City 2-1 in a mid-table meeting.