West Ham United have sacked manager Manuel Pellegrini after a 2-1 home loss to Leicester City that puts the Foxes' distant pursuit of Premier League leaders Liverpool back on track.
Tottenham Hotspur's hopes of moving into the top four stalled in a 2-2 draw at bottom club Norwich City, while Manchester United moved within a point of the Champions League places with a 2-0 win at Burnley.
Carlo Ancelotti and Nigel Pearson continued to revive their new clubs with Everton and Watford claiming second Christmas wins but again VAR dominated airwaves and social media with controversies.
Saturday's major drama came at London Stadium where West Ham's loss proved the final straw for Pellegrini.
With the result leaving the Hammers one place above the relegation zone, co-chairman David Sullivan and David Gold said they felt it "necessary to act now in order to give the new manager as much time as possible".
After second-placed Leicester's heavy defeats by Manchester City and Liverpool, manager Brendan Rodgers made nine changes - the most so early in the season since 2010.
But the Foxes had too much for flimsy West Ham as goals by Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray helped close the gap at the top to 10 points, albeit with Leicester having played two more games than Liverpool.
The win lifted Leicester four points above third-placed Manchester City.
"It was such a quick turnaround; it was a game I felt we had to be fresh," Rodgers said.
Several VAR interventions overshadowed league action, none more so than at Norwich where the hosts thought they had gone 2-0 up against Tottenham, only for Teemu Pukki's effort to be ruled offside.
Earlier, Albion's Dan Burn had a goal wiped out by VAR, although it wasn't costly as they beat Bournemouth 2-0.
Crystal Palace's Max Meyer also had an effort called offside after a VAR check as they drew 1-1 at Southampton.
Tottenham twice trailed Norwich but Harry Kane's late penalty earned them a point.
Norwich, for whom Mario Vrancic scored early, could feel hard done by.
Christian Eriksen levelled for Spurs only for a Serge Aurier own goal to hand the Canaries the lead before Kane fired in a spot kick on his 200th Premier League appearance.
While the title race may lack drama, the battle for the top four is set to be close and Manchester United are firmly in contention after back-to-back wins.
United dominated Burnley but did not go ahead until Anthony Martial scored in the 44th minute after an error from full back Charlie Taylor.
Sean Dyche's side put United under late pressure and David De Gea did well to keep out a low drive from Phil Bardsley before Marcus Rashford made sure with a stoppage time goal.
Everton continue to move up under Ancelotti who has won both his matches in charge, two goals by Dominic Calvert-Lewin sealing a 2-1 victory at Newcastle United.
Watford beat Aston Villa 3-0 despite playing more than half an hour with 10 men after defender Adrian Mariappa was sent off.
Australian Associated Press