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.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat