Liverpool 0 - 0 Stoke City
Toothless Reds held at home again
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish failed to come up with the winning formula at Anfield as his side were held to a goalless draw against Stoke.
Steven Gerrard and Jonathan Walters battle for posession
An unfamiliar line-up to combat the visitors' obvious physical strengths initially appeared to cause more problems for the Reds than it did their opponents.
It took until after the break for Dalglish's side to find their feet but they still struggled to carve out chances against the obdurate Potters and it cost them yet another three points.
They may still be unbeaten at home this season but they have now drawn seven of their 11 matches and the issue is starting to become more of a problem.
The point was exactly what Stoke had come for, however, and they left happy after doing a textbook job in stifling their hosts' creative abilities.
Liverpool lined up in the same 3-4-2-1 formation with which they beat Stoke at home last season but with the personnel different - including summer signing Sebastian Coates being given his first Barclays Premier League start - they struggled to adjust.
Dirk Kuyt, without a league goal since the final day of last season, lacked support up front and while Glen Johnson, on the right of midfield, roamed everywhere on the opposite flank Jose Enrique got forward less than he did playing at left-back.
There appeared to be misunderstanding and confusion everywhere Liverpool turned and Stoke were more than grateful to watch it all unfold in front of them with little intervention required on their part.
Very little quality was evident in the first half - Steven Gerrard's raking 60-yard crossfield ball straight to the feet of Enrique apart - as players ran down the blind alleys Stoke shepherded them into.
In fact the visitors had probably the best chance midway through the first half from a quick counter-attack but even then Matt Etherington's shot from outside the penalty area was easily saved by Jose Reina.
Stewart Downing, Gerrard and Jordan Henderson all had shots from distance but only the latter's troubled goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
For all their struggles at home this season, with four wins and six draws in 10 matches before kick-off, it was easily the worst 45 minutes seen at Anfield since Dalglish returned as manager a year ago.
There was a slight improvement after the break but not to the standard expected of a side with top-four ambitions.
Johnson twice cut in from the right to shoot with his left foot, having his first blocked and dragging the second wide, and when Enrique finally got forward his cross from the left byline was too close to Sorensen.
Striker Andy Carroll made his entrance in the 59th minute to replace Downing and immediately caused a problem with Robert Huth putting him a headlock, unseen by referee Howard Webb, from Gerrard's corner.
The England international's next intervention was less helpful, however, blocking Henderson's goalbound volley from Enrique's cross before then deciding he required a change of footwear.
Gerrard's threaded through ball picked out the toiling Kuyt in the area but the Holland international's first touch let him down.
The Dutchman was to miss Liverpool's best two chances in the final 13 minutes when he headed Enrique's deflected cross wide and then nodded into the side-netting at the far post.
Prior to those chances he had also gone down in the area as he tried to reach Johnson's cross after Carroll had twice appeared to be fouled by Huth in the box.
Martin Skrtel's downward header from Craig Bellamy's corner bounced over and with it went his side's chances of getting a winner as the hosts ran out of ideas.
Man Utd 3 - 0 Bolton
Scholes returns to inspire United
Paul Scholes scored Man Utd's opening goal on his first start in eight months
Paul Scholes' first Old Trafford goal for almost two years set Manchester United up for a valuable 3-0 Premier League win over Bolton.
On only his second appearance since his shock retirement U-turn, the 37-year-old tapped home Wayne Rooney's cross-shot at the far post in first-half stoppage time to give the hosts a priceless lead after Rooney had seen his penalty saved by Adam Bogdan.
After a frustrating second-half, Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick eventually sealed victory late on, ensuring United now only trail neighbours Manchester City, who do not play until Monday, on goal difference.
After Thierry Henry's matchwinning effort for Arsenal on Monday, it was perhaps destined that Scholes would come up with something special once he was confirmed as a member of the United starting line-up.
Had referee Peter Walton not been feeling charitable, it could easily have been a red card, for Scholes' thigh-high assault on Mark Davies was pretty poor in a week when refereeing inconsistencies within the English game have been a talking point.
However, after a couple of cracking long-range shots, Scholes saved the drama until first-half stoppage time.
Having peeled away to the far post, he was perfectly placed to turn home a Rooney cross-shot, which Danny Welbeck had failed to get a touch to.
It the 151st United goal of Scholes' career, and his first since August 2010, meaning he has equalled last season's tally in just two appearances after abandoning his job coaching the club's reserve team.
It was tough luck on the visitors, particularly their goalkeeper Bogdan, who had performed heroics up to that point to keep the hosts out.
Beaten from 92 yards by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard on his last league outing, Bogdan got the better of Rooney from 12 today.
When Zat Knight was beaten to Antonio Valencia's through ball by Welbeck, the Bolton defender pushed his opponent in a desperate attempt to reach the ball.
There was no debate about the penalty. However, as at Manchester City last week, Rooney's spot-kick was saved.
And on this occasion, after plunging to his right, Bogdan got enough on the ball to steer it away from any possible rebound.
The young keeper's place is at risk as Jussi Jaaskelainen nears a full recovery from a thigh strain.
But he must have been pleased with his fine personal display, in particular two saves to deny Welbeck.
And with Mark Davies bundling a Rooney header off the line, Bolton were gaining in confidence, although the ease with which United got behind them explained why USA defender Tim Ream was in the stands, pending his arrival as Chelsea-bound Gary Cahill's replacement.
Bolton wasted an excellent opportunity to equalise straight after the restart when United's defence, not for the first time, got themselves into a tangle, which allowed Davies to race into the area.
He found Ngog but with an unmarked Martin Petrov screaming for a lay-off, the former Liverpool man scooped his shot high over the bar.
This was a warning for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, although there was no immediate end to the chances being wasted.
Rooney was again the culprit just after the hour, when Valencia burst into the box and crossed low to the far post.
In fairness to the striker, he was at full stretch as he went to turn the ball into an empty net and failed in his quest as the ball flashed narrowly wide.
If Bolton's earlier effort was a warning, Gretar Steinsson's was a heart-stopper as his flicked header from a Bolton corner looped over Anders Lindegaard.
Thankfully for the hosts, Rafael had not left his station by the far post and, just as Davies had done from exactly the same position in the first-half, ensured the goal was not breached.
United's second arrived 15 minutes from time, with Welbeck prodding his eighth goal of the season beyond Bogdan after reaching Rooney's lay-off ahead of Sam Ricketts.
The striker took a kick on the back of the leg for his pains, though, and had to be replaced by Javier Hernandez.
But it failed to interrupt the hosts' momentum and, after striding onto Giggs' square pass, Carrick curled a superb left-footed shot past Bogdan from 25 yards.
After successive defeats, it was just what United needed as a confidence booster ahead of a tough sequence of fixtures, starting at Arsenal next weekend, which are likely to determine their chances of retaining the title.
Chelsea 1 - 0 Sunderland
The hosts climb to within six points of Tottenham after Frank Lampard finishes off Fernando Torres' brilliant overhead kick on a day the Spaniard provided everything but the goal