It was generally a better weekend for the hunters than the hunted, as Inter Milan were the only leaders in Europe's top five leagues to collect maximum points. Olympique Lyon and Chelsea both slumped to defeat, while Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen drew with fierce rivals. FIFA.com reviews the weekend action from around Europe's top leagues.
Premier League: United back on top
After just a week away from first place, champions Manchester United returned to top spot courtesy of Chelsea's 2-1 defeat away to in-form Aston Villa. The Red Devils squeezed home against Bolton at Old Trafford by the same score.
Tottenham won 2-1 away to Portsmouth and Arsenal beat Birmingham 3-1, with the North London giants now just three and four points off the lead respectively. By contrast, back-to-back league defeats plunged Liverpool into a crisis. The Reds, beaten 2-0 by Chelsea last week, lost away to Sunderland by the only goal of the game and slipped to eighth.
Top three: Manchester United (22 points), Chelsea (21), Tottenham Hotspur (19)
Bottom three: Hull City (7), West Ham United (5), Portsmouth (3)
Leading scorers: Darren Bent, Fernando Torres (both 8 goals), Didier Drogba (7)
Weekend stat: 4 - Four defeats in nine games means Liverpool have already lost twice as often as they did in the whole of last season.
La Liga: Real Madrid make up ground as Barca held
After opening with six wins on the spin, Barcelona dropped points for the first time this term, spoiling their chance of a best-ever start to a campaign. The champions played out a goalless draw away to fifth-placed Valencia. Raul struck a brace as Real Madrid moved to within a point of their Catalan rivals with a 4-2 victory over Real Valladolid.
A Juan Rodriguez goal was enough for Deportivo La Coruna to beat Sevilla and move level on points with their third-placed opponents. The misery continued for UEFA Champions League hopefuls Atletico Madrid, down to 15th after a 3-0 defeat away to Osasuna.
Top three: Barcelona (19 points), Real Madrid (18), Sevilla (15)
Bottom three: Deportivo Xerez (5), Malaga (4), Villarreal (3)
Leading scorers: David Villa (6 goals), Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi, Aritz Aduriz, Walter Pandiani (all 5)
Weekend stat: 711 - Real Madrid legend Raul pulled on the famous white shirt for the 711th time, setting a new appearance record at the expense of previous holder Manolo Sanchis.
Bundesliga: Stalemate aids rivals
Meetings between the teams in first and second often fail to live up to their billing, and so it was in Germany where second-placed Hamburg and leaders Bayer Leverkusen played out a dour goalless stalemate.
The pursuing pack made the most of the impasse between the top two. In the north of the country, Werder Bremen beat Hoffenheim 2-0, western hopefuls Schalke won 2-1 in Stuttgart, and the biggest team from the south, Bayern Munich, went to Freiburg and won 2-1. The bottom two also met, but here the result was clear-cut: Nuremberg climbed out of the drop zone with a 3-0 success against last-placed Hertha Berlin.
Top three: Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg (both 21 points), Schalke (19)
Bottom three: Bochum (8), Borussia Monchengladbach (7), Hertha Berlin (3)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling, Claudio Pizarro (both 6 goals)
Weekend stat: 700 - Schalke coach Felix Magath clocked up 700 Bundesliga matches in total as a player and head coach.
Serie A: Rampant Inter cement lead
Serie A was the exception proving the rule at the weekend. The league leaders elsewhere all failed to win, but reigning Italian champions Inter powered to a 5-0 triumph away to Genoa, tightening their grip on top spot.
Some of the pursuing pack contrived to take points off each other. Juventus (3rd) and Fiorentina (4th) drew 1-1, while second-placed Sampdoria were held at home to cup holders Lazio by the same score. The AC Milan camp breathed a sigh of relief as goals from Brazil duo Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato saw Il Rossoneri home 2-1 against Roma, ending a three-game winless streak.
Top three: Inter (19 points), Sampdoria (17), Juventus (15)
Bottom three: Bologna (6), Siena (5), Livorno (3)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale (9 goals), Marek Hamsik, Francesco Totti (both 6)
Weekend stat: 3 - AC Milan ended a run of three consecutive home defeats to Roma on Sunday.
Ligue 1: Top two slip as rookies hit the headlines
On Matchday 9 in France, leaders Olympique Lyon tasted defeat for the first time this term, suffering a shock 2-0 home defeat to Sochaux. OL cling on to top spot, as champions Girondins Bordeaux made it back-to-back defeats with a 1-0 reverse to Auxerre.
The headlines in France continue to be written by promoted Montpellier, who beat St Etienne 2-1 to leapfrog Bordeaux into second, behind Lyon on goal difference alone. Monaco beat Lens 2-0 and Lorient won 4-1 against Nice, so a mere three points cover the teams from Lorient in sixth and leaders Lyon.
Top three: Olympique Lyon, Montpellier (both 20 points), Bordeaux (19)
Bottom three: Lens, Nice (both 8), Grenoble (0)
Leading scorers: Nene (7 goals), Mamadou Niang (6)
Weekend stat: 0 - Nine games into the season, bottom club Grenoble remain the only team in Europe's top five leagues yet to put a point on the board.
In Finland, HJK Helsinki sealed a 22nd domestic league title at the weekend. A 1-1 draw away to FF Jaro Pietarsaari was enough for the men from the capital to hoist the trophy.
A derby in Croatia ended with a shock. Bottom club NK Zagreb defied the odds to beat leaders Dinamo Zagreb, Davor Vugrinec striking the only goal of the game on the hour.