(CNN) -- Aston Villa continued their impressive run of recent form, although they were far from their best in defeating midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion 2-1 to move above Manchester United and up to third place in the Premier League table.
Villa players celebrate their opening goal as they beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 to go third in the table.
Villa are now unbeaten in nine league games, from which they have taken 21 points, and there is a momentum about the team which suggests they could clinch a Champions League spot at the end of the season.
And, following Liverpool's 0-0 draw at Stoke in the late match, Martin O'Neill's men now have to enter title calculations, lying just five points off the top.
Albion remain anchored at the bottom of the table but they were far from disgraced despite being unable to end their 30-year run without a league win at Villa Park.
It was against the run of play when Villa went ahead after 18 minutes through former Albion defender Curtis Davies -- who was the subject of abuse from visiting fans for most of the match.
Midfielder Steve Sidwell had two headers cleared off the line following a corner from Gareth Barry, with James Morrison and Jonathan Greening saving Albion.
But, when Barry delivered the ball into the danger area for the third time, nobody picked up Davies who headed past former Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson.
After 41 minutes some dreadful defensive play by the visitors led to Villa doubling their lead. Barry slipped the ball into the path of fellow-England international Gabriel Agbonlahor on the left flank. He cut into the box and fired towards goal from a narrow angle.
Carson should have dealt with the strike, but somehow allowed the ball to squirm under his body and roll over the line. Replays showed that the shot was not going in, so the goal is credited as an own goal to Carson.
Albion pulled a goal back four minutes after the break. Greening curled the ball into the box and substitute Roman Bednar headed back to Morrison who had time to steady himself before drilling a fierce shot, which took a slight deflection, past goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Meanwhile, Arsenal remain fifth, but still in touch with the leaders, after Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner came off the bench to fire a late winner as Arsenal finally ended Bolton's stubborn resistance at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners had dominated possession, but failed to unlock the visitors, who put 10 men behind the ball. However, just when time looked to be running out, Bendtner arrived at the far post to volley in his first goal since November and give the hosts a 1-0 victory.
Everton remain sixth, just three points behind Arsenal and still in the race for a Champions League place, after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hull.
They took an 18th minute lead when Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini headed home Leighton Baines' cross from the left.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Spanish midifleder Mikel Arteta made the points safe with a superbv long-range free-kick.
North-east rivals and relegation candidates Middlesbrough and Sunderland shared a 1-1 draw in a nervy encounter at the Riverside.
Brazilian Afonso Alves combined with Stewart Downing to give Boro a first-half lead, but the visitors levelled with just eight minutes left when Kenwyne Jones converted David Healy's cross.
Young striker Andy Carroll scored his first goal for Newcastle to help his hometown club secure a 2-2 home draw with West Ham.
Michael Owen had fired the Magpies into a first half lead before goals from Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole put Gianfranco Zola's team in control.
But Carroll headed home Damien Duff's cross with 12 minutes remaining to earn Newcastle a deserved share of the spoils.