Rooney ends five-month goal drought
After opening their season with consecutive 6-0 wins, Chelsea had to make do with a 2-0 victory over a spirited Stoke side - Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba on target after Frank Lampard had a first-half penalty saved.
Lampard and Chelsea skipper John Terry were promptly ruled out of England's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Lampard has a hernia that will require surgery next week while Terry injured his hamstring.
Tottenham Hotspur's Peter Crouch and Fulham's Bobby Zamora are also doubtful for England after picking up knocks but there was better news for England coach Fabio Capello with the form of Rooney and Arsenal's Theo Walcott.
Rooney tucked away a penalty before half-time in United's 3-0 win against West Ham United in front of the watching Capello, his first goal since scoring against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in March.
"He took his penalty well. But it's his performance we should be talking about. He needs football, he needs games. That 90 minutes will do him no end of good," manager Alex Ferguson said of Rooney's contribution on United's website.
Rooney also set up United's second for Nani with a clever lay-off before Dimitar Berbatov completed the scoring at Old Trafford to put United on seven points along with Arsenal and two behind champions Chelsea who have nine and a whopping 14-0 goal difference.
Walcott was in sparkling form as Arsenal won 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers, putting the Gunners on the road to victory with his fourth goal of the season.
The shock of the day came at White Hart Lane where Wigan Athletic hit back from two crushing defeats to beat Champions League qualifiers Tottenham Hotspur 1-0.
Hugo Rodallega's late goal decided a fixture that Tottenham won 9-1 last season.
Blackpool's first home match in the top flight since 1971 ended in a 2-2 draw with Fulham while Andy Carroll was on target again for promoted Newcastle United who drew 1-1 at unbeaten Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Chelsea have been unstoppable so far this season but Stoke proved a much tougher proposition than they did at the back end of last season when they were hammered 7-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard wasted the chance to put the hosts in front when his penalty, awarded for a foul on Malouda by Ryan Shawcross, was saved by Thomas Sorensen but Malouda spared his blushes soon afterwards when he latched on to John Terry's pass to score in style.
Stoke refused to buckle though and almost levelled when Matthew Etherington's shot was blocked by Drogba and then when Glenn Whelan's powerful shot struck the underside of the bar.
After 77 minutes Nicolas Anelka was brought down by Sorensen, and with Lampard having been substituted, Drogba made no mistake from the penalty spot to seal an efficient rather than swashbuckling victory.
"Today was not our best performance, there was a lot of difficulty in the game," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose side have now scored a record 32 unanswered goals in their last six league games including last season, said.
"But I am happy because we won, we didn't concede a goal, we maintained a clean sheet and we maintained the top of the table."
Walcott has now matched his goal tally for the whole of the last campaign in just three games and had his manager Arsene Wenger purring on the sidelines.
"You judge a player by the numbers; the goals he scores, the assists when he is a striker and his numbers are already very, very good," Wenger told Arsenal's website.
Walcott raced through to fire Arsenal ahead after 20 minutes and although Mame Diouf levelled for Rovers on his first Premier League start the Gunners sealed a deserved victory when Andrei Arshavin scored early in the second half.
The only blemish for Wenger was the sight of Dutch striker Robin van Persie limping off with a twisted ankle before half-time.