- Manchester City extend English Premier League lead to five points on Saturday
- City's 3-0 win over Blackburn puts pressure on Manchester United to beat Norwich on Sunday
- Chelsea return to the top four with 3-0 win over Bolton that ends poor run of results
- Newcastle join fifth-placed Arsenal on 43 points after being held 2-2 by Wolverhampton
Roberto Mancini and Andre Villas-Boas have had sharply contrasting fortunes this season, but both managers celebrated vital victories in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Mancini's Manchester City moved five points clear at the top of the table with a 3-0 victory over struggling Blackburn, putting the pressure on second-placed champions Manchester United to match that result at Norwich on Sunday.
Villas-Boas' short reign at Chelsea has come under increasing scrutiny after the worst run of results since billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2004, but a similar three-goal win at another relegation-threatened team, Bolton, moved his side back into the top four.
City suffered a relative lull in form in January with key players injured, suspended and away on international duty, but this month has brought three league wins and a two-leg double over Europa League champions Porto of Portugal to reach the last 16 of the continent's second-tier competition.
Mario Balotelli, back from a four-match domestic ban, opened the scoring at home to Blackburn after half an hour with a delightful near-post finish from fullback Aleksandar Kolarov's left-wing cross.
The eccentric Italy striker celebrated his 10th league goal this season by displaying his latest undershirt -- his previous one asked "Why always me?" but this one spoke of his love for girlfriend Rafaella.
Strike partner Sergio Aguero doubled the lead seven minutes after halftime with his 16th league score, pouncing after Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson failed to deal with a corner from David Silva, who was also involved in the first goal.
With Edin Dzeko coming off the bench to head home his 13th in the EPL from Kolarov's 80th-minute cross, it means Carlos Tevez may have to wait to make a meaningful contribution to City's bid for a first league title since 1968.
The former City captain ended his three-month exile last week and apologized for his absence without leave, but is lacking match fitness.
Chelsea's form this month has left Villas-Boas having to deal with a reported player revolt and constant questions about his future.
However, the Blues bounced back from the Champions League defeat at Napoli on Tuesday to earn a first victory in six games in all competitions.
Center-back David Luiz struggled again in his usual defensive duties in Italy, but showed his undoubted attacking flair as he opened the scoring against Bolton just after halftime with a curling effort.
Striker Didier Drogba doubled the lead after the hour and midfielder Frank Lampard celebrated his return to the starting line-up with the third with 11 minutes left.
Lampard, whose European omission along with other key players prompted Abramovich to interrogate Villas-Boas about his tactics, made the veteran England international the first player to reach double figures in the Premier League nine seasons in a row. It was also his 150th in the EPL.
The win put Chelsea above Arsenal into the fourth Champions League qualification place, putting even more pressure on the struggling Gunners ahead of Sunday's north London derby at home to third-placed Tottenham.
"The most important thing about this weekend is going to be Arsenal-Tottenham tomorrow and to see in which way you benefit from it," Villas-Boas said.
"You can either benefit from it with Tottenham coming closer to us or we finish in fifth again and 'drama' all week!"
Newcastle could have moved above Arsenal but blew a two-goal lead against lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers, who earned a vital point in caretaker manager Terry Connor's first match in charge.
Connor has replaced the sacked Mick McCarthy until the end of this season, becoming the only black manager in charge of an EPL side this season.
New signing Papisse Cisse scored his second goal for Newcastle and Jonas Gutierrez made it 2-0 inside 20 minutes.
But winger Matt Jarvis pulled one back five minutes after the break and striker Kevin Doyle's 66th-minute leveler moved Wolves a point above the relegation zone. Newcastle joined Arsenal on 43 points -- 20 behind Manchester City.
West Brom moved up to 12th after thrashing ninth-placed Sunderland 4-0, while Wigan stayed bottom after a 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa -- whose striker Darren Bent will miss England's friendly against the Netherlands next week after injuring his ankle.
Queens Park Rangers were above the bottom three on goal difference only following the 1-0 defeat by west London rivals Fulham, who moved up to 11th after January arrival Pavel Pogrebnyak scored his second goal for the club.
QPR debutant Samba Diakite was then marched for his second yellow card, becoming the team's third first-half sending-off in four home matches.