Gallas keeps Arsenal in pole position

Arsenal preserved their place on top of the Premier League after William Gallas’s late equaliser earned a dramatic 2-2 draw against Manchester United on Saturday.

Gallas’s late intervention ensured Arsene Wenger’s side stayed ahead of United on goal difference and extended their unbeaten run this season to 18 matches in all competitions.

The most eagerly-anticipated clash of the campaign surpassed expectations after a slow start at the Emirates Stadium. The game exploded into life when United went ahead in first half stoppage-time when Gallas turned Wayne Rooney’s shot into his own net.

Arsenal were back on terms two minutes into the second-half as Cesc Fabregas collected Bacary Sagna’s cutback to slot into the bottom-corner for his 10th goal of the season.

United regained the lead in the 82nd minute when left-back Patrice Evra burst into the penalty area before cutting a pass back to Ronaldo who swept his shot into the open goal.

The home team were not finished though and they snatched a point in the dying seconds when Gallas scored at the right end by turning in Theo Walcott’s scuffed shot.

United manager Alex Ferguson admitted his side had only themselves to blame.

”I can’t believe it,” he said. ”We’ve thrown it away. I thought we had done it, but this is football.

”Arsenal had some good possession, but I think we had the better chances. We were controlling the game.”

Frank Lampard helped Chelsea move into third place — within three points of Arsenal — as his goal set up a 2-0 win at Wigan.

Lampard followed his midweek League Cup hat-trick against Leicester by giving Avram Grant’s side an 11th minute lead at the JJB Stadium.

Seven minutes later full-back Juliano Belletti scored his first goal since his move from Barcelona and Chelsea were well on the way to their seventh successive win, while Wigan have now lost six in a row.

New Tottenham manager Juande Ramos was denied a first league win as Middlesbrough fought back to draw 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium.

Ramos sprung a surprise by dropping star strikers Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov and was rewarded when Darren Bent gave Spurs a 35th minute lead.

It was Bent’s first league goal since August and only his third since his club record £16-million move to White Hart Lane.

But Luke Young drew the hosts level in the 52nd minute and Spurs remain deep in trouble.

Portsmouth beat Newcastle 4-1 thanks to an astonishing three-goal blast in the space of three first-half minutes at St James’ Park.

Noe Pamarot started the spree for Harry Redknapp’s side in the eighth minute.

Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari added a second a minute later with his eighth goal of the season and John Utaka piled on the misery after 11 minutes to leave the home fans stunned.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring as Sol Campbell’s own goal five minutes later gave Newcastle a glimmer of hope.

But Portsmouth were in the mood and Niko Kranjcar’s free-kick deflected in off Steven Taylor to secure their fourth consecutive away league win.

Everton scored twice in stoppage time to clinch a 3-1 win over Birmingham.

David Moyes’s side took the lead through Yakubu’s 10th minute strike before Birmingham levelled through Olivier Kapo’s 80th minute goal. But Lee Carsley and then James Vaughan scored in the dying minutes.

Aston Villa left struggling Derby rooted to the bottom of the table as second half goals from Martin Laursen and Ashley Young sealed a 2-0 victory.

Derby have won only one of their first 12 matches and already look destined for a quick return to the Championship.

Danish defender Laursen broke the deadlock at Villa Park in the 57th minute and Young put the result beyond doubt four minutes later.

Clint Dempsey gave Fulham their first league success in 10 matches as the American’s second half strike sealed a 3-1 win against Reading.

Under-pressure Cottagers manager Lawrie Sanchez desperately needed a victory after a woeful run and his side got off to the perfect start when Simon Davies opened the scoring in the 18th minute.

Kevin Doyle equalised for Reading in the 54th minute but Dempsey struck and then David Healy added a third. – Sapa-AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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