Gutsy Arsenal back at the top of Premier League

LONDON - Arsenal ended the year back on top of the Premier League as a 4-1 win at in-form Everton lifted them above Manchester United after the champions lost 2-1 at West Ham United on Saturday.

LONDON - Arsenal ended the year back on top of the Premier League as a 4-1 win at in-form Everton lifted them above Manchester United after the champions lost 2-1 at West Ham United on Saturday.

Arsenal top the table on 47 points, two ahead of United and six clear of Chelsea, who beat Newcastle United 2-1 with a controversial late goal from Salomon Kalou at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool, fourth on 36 points and fifth-placed Manchester City (35) were to meet at Eastlands yesterday while Everton remain sixth on 33.

Everton deservedly led with a 19th-minute Tim Cahill goal and seemed on course for a third successive home league win over the Gunners. However, Arsene Wenger's faith in striker Eduardo da Silva was rewarded when the Brazilian-born Croatian international levelled in the 47th minute and made it 2-1 minutes later.

The Nicklas Bendtner experiment was less successful as the young Danish forward was sent off in the 74th minute. But poor defending allowed Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor to extend Arsenal's lead soon after and fellow substitute Tomas Rosicky drove in Arsenal's fourth in injury-time. Everton were also down to 10 men by that stage, after an 84th minute red card for Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta.

"To be 1-0 down away against a team like Everton and to win 4-1 shows an outstanding desire and hunger," Wenger said.

The result capped a bad day for Manchester United, who had high hopes of stretching their overnight lead to four points when Cristiano Ronaldo put them ahead after 14 minutes.

The Portuguese winger then missed a 66th-minute penalty and West Ham equalised with a 77th-minute header by Anton Ferdinand, before winning it eight minutes from the end through Matthew Upson.

"I think our team struggled today. West Ham were very competitive and aggressive, we can't complain. I think they were the better team," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

Chelsea, without a host of first-choice players through injury and suspension, also struggled against Newcastle despite Michael Essien putting them ahead after 29 minutes.

Nicky Butt scrambled a 56th-minute equaliser but Kalou snatched the winner three minutes from the end.

The game of the day was at White Hart Lane where Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov scored four as Tottenham Hotspur beat Reading 6-4 with seven goals coming in a crazy 20-minute second-half spell. - Reuters

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