10-man Arsenal go top

Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

Arsenal showed the spirit of champions to overcome the dismissal of defender Thomas Vermaelen as they battled back to the top of the Barclays Premier League with victory over struggling West Ham.

Brazilian midfielder Denilson fired the Gunners in front after only five minutes as Arsene Wenger's men looked to leapfrog Manchester United and Chelsea, who do not play until tomorrow.

Vermaelen was then deemed to have been the last man when he pulled down Guillermo Franco, and was shown a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson.

However, Manuel Almunia saved Alessandro Diamanti's penalty and captain Cesc Fabregas - back from a injury lay-off - made it 2-0 with nine minutes left from the same spot following a handball by Matthew Upson.

The Gunners could, of course, fall back down to third place should both United and Chelsea win tomorrow, but after another brave display, Wenger's youngsters remain very much in the hunt for a first title since the 'Invincibles' campaign of 2003/2004.

Arsenal swept into the lead when Denilson won the ball from Valon Behrami on the edge of the West Ham box, before playing a neat one-two with Nicklas Bendtner.

The Brazilian needed no second invitation as he stepped into the penalty area before sidefooting a low shot into the bottom right corner.

The pair had also combined for Arsenal's stoppage-time winner at Hull, where Bendtner tapped in after a long-range effort from his team-mate.

The Dane then tried his luck from 20 yards, but was just off target.

West Ham were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out when Sol Campbell bundled over Franco.

Diamanti's effort was well struck, but flew over.

The Hammers, who are hovering just above the relegation zone, produced a decent response to their early setback.

Junior Stanislas got away down the right, and his cross was almost met by Mido at the far post.

Fabregas and Bendtner combined to release Eboue into the right side of the box, and his angled drive was just too far ahead of Andrey Arshavin, sliding in at the far post.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men a minute before the break when Vermaelen was, on the advice of the assistant, adjudged to have pulled down Franco as they chased a long ball into the box - and deemed the last man by Atkinson who, from 20 yards away, went to his back pocket for the red card.

Wenger was fuming - but will feel justice was done when Almunia made a brilliant save down to his left to keep out Diamanti's spot-kick.

Song dropped back into the centre of defence, as Arsenal regrouped for the second half with Bendtner deployed as a lone striker, which limited Arsenal's attacking options.

West Ham, though, failed to make the most of their extra possession.

Matthew Upson, the former Arsenal defender, was cautioned for tripping Eboue to concede a free-kick 25 yards out on the right.

Fabregas curled his effort around the wall, but wide.

Arsenal suddenly found another gear, lifted by the Emirates Stadium faithful as Samir Nasri flashed a low ball across the face of goal from the right.

West Ham were still a danger, though, as Diamanti's drive was deflected behind for a corner.

Campbell forced a good save from Robert Green when he met Fabregas' free-kick, before Nasri was replaced by Bacary Sagna as Eboue went onto the right wing, while West Ham sent striker Benni McCarthy on for Mido.

Arshavin's drive was well held by Green on what was now a skiddy surface, before Cole cut inside and drilled a low shot onto the outside of the far post.

Arsenal secured themselves a two-goal cushion and some much-needed breathing space after Upson's handball with nine minutes left, as Fabregas made no mistake from the penalty spot as the Gunners recorded a sixth successive league victory.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on Scotland's oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
i100
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week