Manchester City squandered an opportunity to replace Chelsea at the Premier League summit after being held to a 1-1 draw by an improved Arsenal side on Saturday.
Chelsea’s 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace meant that victory at the Emirates Stadium would have sent City top on goal difference, but they remain third after David Silva’s opener was cancelled out by Mathieu Flamini.
The day’s events mean that only five points now separate leaders Chelsea and fourth-place Arsenal, who produced a much more determined display after last weekend’s 6-0 demolition by Jose Mourinho’s side.
Chelsea’s advantage is paper-thin, however, as City, who trail them by two points, have two games in hand, while second-place Liverpool will go top if they win at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
After Tomas Rosicky had seen an early penalty appeal turned down for Arsenal, City went ahead in the 18th minute when Silva prodded in after a shot from Edin Dzeko came back off the post.
Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker inadvertently almost doubled City’s lead early in the second half, the ball trickling inches wide of goal after goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had pushed a Samir Nasri cross against him.
Within moments Arsenal were level, as Lukas Podolski was granted space to cross from the left and Flamini flew in to steer a half-volley into the bottom-right corner in the 53rd minute.
City goalkeeper Joe Hart then saved from Podolski, while City’s best chance of a winner saw Yaya Toure, Nasri and Dzeko denied by a series of desperate blocks by Arsenal defenders.