Manchester United and Arsenal failed to take advantage of Chelsea’s inactivity in the snowbound Premier League when they were held to draws by Birmingham City and Everton on Saturday.
United came from behind to draw 1-1 at Birmingham while Arsenal rescued a point when a last-gasp Tomas Rosicky equaliser earned a 2-2 home draw with Everton.
The results left Chelsea, who had their match at Hull City postponed because of the icy weather, clear at the top with 45 points from 20 matches followed by United with 44 from 21 and Arsenal with 42 from 20.
Tottenham Hotspur, who also had Sunday’s trip to Liverpool called off, are fourth with 37 points from 20 games. The only other match due to go ahead is Manchester City’s home game with Blackburn Rovers on Monday.
Manchester United, knocked out of the FA Cup last week by League One (third division) Leeds United, looked to be heading for another defeat at Birmingham.
The home team, who set a club record by stretching their unbeaten run to 12 league games, took the lead through Cameron Jerome after 39 minutes when United failed to clear a corner.
Birmingham more than matched the champions until Scott Dann conceded an own goal after 63 minutes when the visitors pressurised the City defence.
United finished with 10 men after Darren Fletcher was shown a second yellow card for a trip on Jerome six minutes from time. Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, who played under Ferguson at Aberdeen in the early 1980s, said: “It’s been a wonderful journey up to this juncture and I hope we can take it further forward.”