LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Arsenal missed a chance to go four points clear in the Premier League title race with a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Tuesday while Robin van Persie came back with a bang as Manchester United beat Cardiff City 2-0.
Arsenal's team bus was late arriving at St Mary's Stadium and they never hit top gear with Jose Fonte and Adam Lallana scoring for the hosts either side of goals from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
With United's record signing Juan Mata making his debut, they enjoyed a double boost as Van Persie made his first appearance since Dec. 10 after injury.
The Dutchman marked the occasion with the opening goal before Ashley Young wrapped up the points to leave Cardiff bottom after a painful return to Old Trafford for visiting manager and former United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Arsenal, who had Mathieu Flamini sent off in the second half, are two points ahead of Manchester City and three above Chelsea but will drop to third if both their rivals win on Wednesday. United stay seventh, now 12 points off the lead.
Swansea City won 2-0 at home to Fulham to record their first league victory since Dec. 4, while Norwich City and Newcastle drew 0-0 with both teams having a player sent off.
Liverpool were playing Everton and Crystal Palace faced Hull City in later kickoffs. (Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)