One of Manchester City's impressive stable of young bloods, Joe Hart, underlined why he is regarded as a future England number one with a fine display against Chelsea. He was unable to prevent the visitors scoring twice but he made several excellent saves, with Nicholas Anelka in particular left to curse Hart's agility.
Danny Collins was distraught to be denied his first goal of the season when the referee adjudged him to have committed a foul before heading home against Fulham. So just before half-time he repeated the trick, leaving out the infringement, to net a rare goal for the Black Cats.
Habib Beye gave an eye-catching all-round performance for a resurgent Newcastle side. The right-back's attacking instincts are sure to please his manager and he was involved in two of Newcastle's goals against Reading. Beye chipped a ball for Owen to latch on to, then performed a smart one-two with Mark Viduka to present him with the opportunity to score his side's third.
Ashley Cole and co had more of an uncomfortable afternoon at the Eastlands than their 0-2 scoreline suggested. The much-maligned England fullback was on hand to stop a Michael Johnson effort on the Chelsea goal-line and Avram Grant will be satisfied with a clean sheet as City pressed his side purposefully for periods of the game.
Lovable rogue Joey Barton has taken time out from attracting lurid tabloid headlines and put in a few decent stints in the Newcastle midfield. He gave perhaps his most influential performance so far as Reading were dismantled by Kevin Keegan's men, with Barton playing a significant part in their accomplished victory.
Leon Osman's solitary strike was the high point of a drab encounter between Everton and relegated Derby County at a hail strewn Goodison Park. Osman converted his seventh goal of the campaign, firing home after receiving a Manuel Fernandes pass.
There were three Taylor's on view at the JJB stadium on Saturday but it was Ryan who was making all the headlines after his two goals sunk Alex McLeish's Birmingham. His first was a sweetly struck shot from 18 yards, the second a more fortuitously scrambled effort from close range to make amends for his penalty miss last week.
Gareth Barry led by example at Villa Park, putting in a skipper's performance as Villa emerged from an alarming slump in form in emphatic style to trounce Bolton 4-0. Barry opened the scoring with a header and added an opportunistic second which benefited from a deflection as it crept past Al Habsi in the Bolton goal.
Kenwyne Jones 76th minute strike extinguished Fulham's hopes of mounting a comeback following David Healey's 74th minute goal. Dean Whitehead cut the ball back for the striker to score Sunderland' third. Jones had earlier set up Michael Chopra, heading on Craig Gordon's clearance in to the path of his strike partner.
Afonso Alves finally broke his Middlesbrough scoring duck then added another as champions Manchester United came to town. In some decidedly un- Brazilian weather conditions, Alves lit up the Riverside with some of his play. His first goal was calmly lofted over van der Sar with his left foot, his second clinically dispatched with his right.
Gabriel Agbonlahor finally found the back of the net in 2008 in Villa's win over Bolton and the young striker's pace was a real menace to the Trotters defence. His first goal in 13 games was the culmination of a quick-fire Villa move down the left, Agbonlahor netting after Barry crossed for him.
Gareth Southgate may be relieved to have got Middlesbough's game with United out of the way but he is more likely rueing the loss of all three points as his Boro side ran the champions close at the Riverside. Southgate will hope the performance of his expensive January signing is a sign of things to come, and Alves might have given his boss something to really warm him in the Teeside chill had he scored with a header in the second half.