Ten-man Arsenal go top of Premier League as West Ham miss penalty  

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Arsenal climbed to the top of the English Premier League with a 2-0 victory over London rivals West Ham despite playing half of Saturday's clash with only 10 men.

Arsene Wenger's team moved a point above champions Manchester United, who host Liverpool on Sunday, while Chelsea dropped to third ahead of their trip to Blackburn. Carlo Ancelotti's side can join Arsenal on 67 points with victory in that game.

Gianfranco Zola's West Ham team were left to rue a missed penalty as the defeat left them just three points above the relegation zone.

Arsenal, who on Friday were handed a chance to avenge 2006's Champions League final defeat by Barcelona in the upcoming quarterfinals, took the lead after just five minutes in the rain at the Emirates Stadium.

Brazil midfielder Denilson fired in a low shot for his sixth goal this season, having dispossessed Valon Behrami and then played a neat one-two on the edge of the area with striker Nicklas Bendtner.

But Arsenal could not turn their dominance into further goals, and West Ham should have leveled just before halftime when Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen was sent off as his nudge in the back of Guillermo Franco saw the Mexico striker tumble in the box.

But Alessandro Diamanti saw his penalty saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, and the hosts also escaped in the second half when substitute striker Carlton Cole saw his fierce low shot hit the outside of the post.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas made the points safe on his return from injury five minutes after that with a penalty on 82, as England defender Matthew Upson paid the price for deliberately blocking the Spain midfielder's clever little flick with his arm.


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