LONDON — Unbeaten Chelsea came through its sternest test of the season to stay top of the English Premier League, beating Arsenal 2-1 on Saturday as Luis Suarez discovered his scoring touch to finally earn Liverpool a first league win under manager Brendan Rodgers.
Defending champion Manchester City needed a late goal from substitute Edin Dzeko to see off Fulham 2-1 and keep the pressure on Chelsea along with in-form Everton, which beat Southampton 3-1.
Juan Mata scored one and set up Spain teammate Fernando Torres' opener as a Chelsea side featuring John Terry — two days after he received a four-match ban for racial abuse — condemned Arsenal to a first loss this season.
"It was a big challenge to play against a quality side like Arsenal," Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said. "We were excellent. We didn't just come and sit back, we took the initiative."
Suarez grabbed a hat trick for Liverpool in a 5-2 thrashing of Norwich at the other end of the table, ending a five-match winless run for the fallen English giants.
It was a relieving win for Rodgers, who had presided over the club's worst start to a season in more than a century.
"I'm not surprised because in a lot of our games we have played very well and created a host of chances. It's just our conversion rate has not been as good," Rodgers said. "But today we were fantastic."
After two straight draws and having seen Chelsea win at Emirates Stadium in the early kickoff, the pressure was on City to get back to winning ways and revive its title charge.
However, Mladen Petric put Fulham ahead in the 10th minute from the penalty spot and it needed a first goal of the season from Sergio Aguero — playing up front with Argentina teammate Carlos Tevez — to haul City back level in the 43rd.
Dzeko was thrown on in the 85th as City poured forward in search of a winner and he grabbed it within 70 seconds, slamming home a cross from Gael Clichy.
"I was worried because we continued to play well and continued to create chances, but didn't score (the winner) for 87 minutes," City manager Roberto Mancini said.
City remained four points behind Chelsea, whose fifth win in six matches was secured with the help of some defiant defending by Terry.
The center back was available while he contemplates whether to appeal the suspension for making a racial slur at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a league match last year, and he was a composed presence at the heart of the European champions' stubborn backline.
Terry lost Gervinho for Arsenal's equalizer in the 42nd but hardly put a foot wrong otherwise, before heading over to the jubilant travelling support and handing his boots to some young fans.
"It was the right choice to pick him today," Di Matteo said. "John showed his leadership qualities and what a good defender he is for the team."
The loss ended Arsenal's unbeaten start and saw the team's defensive vulnerability resurface, with center back Laurent Koscielny at fault for both goals from Mata's set pieces.
Torres got the better of Koscielny to volley in Mata's cross at the far post while the France defender glanced Mata's curling free kick into his own net for what proved to be the 53rd-minute winner.
"Defensively, we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Nikica Jelavic netted twice as Everton handed Southampton a fifth loss in six matches to stay three points behind Chelsea.
Peter Crouch also scored a brace in Stoke's 2-0 win at home to Swansea while Sunderland beat 10-man Wigan 1-0 for a first win of the campaign, Steven Fletcher grabbing the winner.
Demba Ba equalized twice for Newcastle in a 2-2 draw at Reading where all the goals came in an entertaining second half.