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Man Utd and Arsenal drop vital points

Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome scores his fifth goal of the season at home to Manchester United.
Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome scores his fifth goal of the season at home to Manchester United.
  • Manchester United and Arsenal held to draws as Chelsea retain English Premier League lead
  • United come from behind to draw 1-1 at Birmingham, with Darren Fletcher sent off
  • Third-placed Arsenal need late goal from Tomas Rosicky to draw 2-2 at Everton
  • Chelsea's trip to Hull was postponed earlier in the week due to snowy weather in UK

(CNN) -- Title hopefuls Manchester United and Arsenal were both held to draws on Saturday as Chelsea retained their English Premier League lead despite being snowed out of action.

Second-placed United closed to within a point of Chelsea, whose match at lowly Hull was called off during the week, despite having Darren Fletcher sent off in a 1-1 draw away to in-form Birmingham.

United, knocked out of the FA Cup by third division Leeds last Sunday, needed a controversial second-half own-goal by Birmingham defender Scott Dann to end the match on level terms.

Alex McLeish's Midlands side joined seventh-placed Liverpool on 33 points, having played one more match, after extending their unbeaten run to a club-record 12 league matches.

The home side took the lead against the run of play in the 39th minute when striker Cameron Jerome finished well after United failed to clear James McFadden's corner and Lee Bowyer headed the ball back across goal.

United regained composure and leveled in the 63rd minute when Dann turned Park Ji-Sung's cross into his own net under pressure from Patrice Evra, with referee Mark Clattenburg awarding the goal after consulting his assistant -- much to the anger of the Birmingham bench.

United were reduced to 10 men in the 84th minute when influential Scotland midfielder Fletcher received his second yellow card for tripping Jerome, but managed to hold on as Clattenburg added six minutes of injury-time.

Arsenal needed an extra-time equalizer from substitute Tomas Rosicky to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Everton which left Arsene Wenger's side three points adrift of Chelsea, with both having played 20 matches.

The London side had re-ignited their title hopes with five wins from six matches, but lost momentum when Wednesday's clash with Bolton was postponed due to snowy weather.

However, it was 12th-placed Everton who took the lead in the 12th minute when Leon Osman headed in a corner from Landon Donovan, the United States captain making his debut following his short-term loan from American side Los Angeles Galaxy.

But midfielder Osman went from hero to hapless 16 minutes later as Denilson's deflected off him past wrong-footed goalkeeper Tim Howard to put Arsenal level.

Everton were resolute, however, as snow began to fall and deservedly regained the lead with eight minutes to play when South African midfielder Steven Pienaar raced onto a pass from Tim Cahill and dinked a delightful chip over home goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Almunia denied Everton striker James Vaughan in a similar situation, and the miss proved costly for the visitors as Rosicky's late close-range effort deflected into the net off defender Lucas Neill.

Arsenal had earlier suffered an injury blow when young Brazilian Denilson, back in the starting line-up after a back problem, was stretchered off.

This weekend's English program has been decimated by the cold weather, with Saturday games at Wigan, Sunderland, Fulham and Burnley also called off.

Sunday's clash between Liverpool and fourth-placed Tottenham is also postponed, along with struggling West Ham's home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.