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Arsenal on top of Premiership as Chelsea miss out

By Agence France-Presse, Updated: Saturday, December 04, 2010 6:21 PM

Arsenal went top of the Premier League by a point after Samir Nasri scored twice in a 2-1 victory over London rivals Fulham on Saturday.

Arsenal on top of Premiership as Chelsea miss out
English champions Chelsea, who would also have gone above Manchester United had they won, drew 1-1 at home to Everton after Jermaine Beckford, who began his career at Stamford Bridge, equalised four minutes from time to cancel out Didier Drogba's first-half penalty.

United had to endure a frustrating afternoon after their match away to Blackpool was postponed because of a frozen pitch.

At the other end of the table, Wolves dropped to the bottom on goal difference following a 3-0 loss away to Blackburn Rovers, who bounced back in style after a 7-1 loss to United.

Saturday's other top-flight matches saw 10-man Manchester City see off Bolton 1-0 while Birmingham drew 1-1 with Tottenham and Wigan shared the points with Stoke in a 2-2 draw.

"We once again have shown fantastic quality and spirit," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports.

"Credit to Nastri as well, he got two outstanding goals. He's just been voted French player of the year and that gives you more confidence.

"Apart from that, it's a combination of skill, intelligence and calm - that's what you need to score in the box."

But disappointed Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said: "Our performance was not good, the second half was poor.

"We didn't play our football, just long ball. It was difficult to understand why this happened. My team has to play better."

However, it was a different story for Ancelotti's fellow Italian Roberto Mancini after a victory for his Manchester City side left them just three points behind Arsenal.

"We deserved this, we had a lot of chances. At this moment Bolton is one of the best teams in England and to win against them is very important."

Drogba gave Chelsea the lead three minutes before half-time from the penalty spot after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was yellow-carded for bringing down Nicolas Anelka.

But they were made to pay for not scoring again when substitute Beckford nodded in from close range after Australia international Tim Cahill had headed on Leighton Baines's cross.

Arsenal took a 14th-minute lead when midfielder Nasri, played in by Russia's Andrey Arshavin, sold two dummies before shooting high into the net.

However, Fulham were level on the half-hour mark.

Laurent Koscielny and Sebastian Squillaci collided, allowing United States international Clint Dempsey to play in Diomansy Kamara, who curled in from 12 yards out.

But Nasri restored Arsenal's lead 15 minutes from time with a superb second goal, beating a defender and Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, once a Gunners target, before shooting home following a layoff from Robin van Persie.

Carlos Tevez gave City a fourth-minute lead against Bolton in the fourth minute after latching on to Yaya Toure's through ball.

But the hosts had to play the last 11 minutes at Eastlands with 10 men after Aleksandar Kolarov was sent-off for a second yellow card.

In-form Tottenham went ahead against Birmingham in the 19th minute when Cameroon defender Sebastien Bassong got on the end of Gareth Bale's free-kick.

But the Blues were level nine minutes from time when Craig Gardner headed in from close range.

Stoke went ahead at the Britannia Stadium when Robert Huth's 22-yard free-kick was deflected past Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi in the 18th minute.

Wigan equalised on the half hour through a Danny Collins own-goal but a minute later Stoke's Matthew Etherington shot home from Ricardo Fuller's pass.

But Wigan though were back level five minutes before the break thanks to Tom Cleverly's deflected shot.

Blackburn, who'd seen Wolves hit the woodwork several times, went ahead at Ewood Park when, after Morten Gamset Pedersen's corner was headed back across goal by Ryan Nelsen, David Dunn headed in from six yards.

Rovers doubled their lead two minutes before half-time when Australia midfielder Brett Emerton shot powerfully after good work from Jason Roberts.

Blackburn sealed victory when unmarked New Zealand centre-half Nelsen turned in Pedersen's free-kick.

West Ham, now second bottom, face Sunderland on Sunday when West Brom play Newcastle.

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier returns to Anfield on Monday with Aston Villa.

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