The table-topping clash between Arsenal and Manchester United took time to ignite but delivered a dramatic finale on Saturday when home captain William Gallas scored in stoppage-time to secure a 2-2 draw.
Chelsea took advantage of the stalemate at Arsenal, a 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic allowing them to make ground on the top two.
Arsenal, who grabbed a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at Liverpool last week, remain top with 27 points from 11 matches.
United, who have played a game more, are level on points and goal difference but trail on goals scored. Chelsea move up to third on 24 with Portsmouth fourth on 22 after winning 4-1 at Newcastle United.
Blackburn Rovers are also on 22 after a goalless home draw with Liverpool (21) in Saturday’s late game.
Rovers twice hit the woodwork in the first half but Liverpool finished the game strongly and were foiled by their former keeper Brad Friedel.
Manchester City, also on 22, play Sunderland on Monday.
The game at the Emirates Stadium was the first Arsenal failed to win at home this season but it was a club record 25th unbeaten match in all competitions.
After a cagey opening Gallas deflected a Wayne Rooney shot into his own net in first-half injury time before Arsenal levelled within three minutes of the restart through midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Cristiano Ronaldo restored United’s lead eight minutes from the end. Gallas then made up for his own goal with a well-controlled volley, awarded by the linesman after keeper Edwin van der Sar beat the ball back from behind the line.
”I can’t believe it, we’ve thrown it away, the same as last season, through a lack of concentration,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
United also conceded two late goals in a 2-1 defeat at the same ground in January.
”I believe it was a fair result,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. ”We played with the handbrake on in the first half though and we lacked our usual flowing game.”
Chelsea did what was necessary at Wigan with man-of-the-moment Frank Lampard following up his midweek League Cup hat-trick with an early opener.
Shaun Wright-Phillips set it up and then supplied Juliano Belletti for the second after 18. Despite some willing Wigan running, Chelsea were never in danger from then on.
Portsmouth had not triumphed at St James’ Park for 58 years while Newcastle had won their previous four home games so the hosts were stunned when goals from Noe Pamarot, Benjamin Mwaruwari and John Utaka put Pompey 3-0 up after 11 minutes.
A Sol Campbell own-goal put Newcastle on the scoreboard but Niko Kranjcar completed a great day for the visitors with the fourth after 71 minutes.
”For 20 minutes we were fantastic,” said Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp.
Lee Carsley and James Vaughan scored in injury time to give Everton a 3-1 win over Birmingham City, with Fulham beating Reading by the same score at Craven Cottage.
Aston Villa eased past bottom side Derby County 2-0 while Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1. – Reuters