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Monday, March 22, 2010

Gunners go top

LONDON (AP) Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty on his return to the Arsenal lineup after injury to help his 10-man team beat West Ham 2-0 on Saturday to take the provisional lead at the top of the Premier League.

Denilson gave Arsenal a fifth-minute lead with a low shot after swapping passes with Nicklas Bendtner, but teammate Thomas Vermaelen was sent off just before halftime for giving away a penalty when he was adjudged to have fouled goalbound striker Guillermo Franco.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved Alessandro Diamanti's spot-kick and Fabregas, back from a hamstring injury, made sure of victory with a penalty for Matthew Upson's handball in the 83rd minute.

"We want to go all the way with the squad we have," said Arsenal captain Fabregas, whose club has not won the title since 2004. "We have a quality squad and we want to prove that."

Arsenal's sixth win in a row in all competitions put the team a point above Manchester United and three above Chelsea, although they could reverse the positions by winning on Sunday.

Niko Kranjcar scored the winner as Tottenham beat 10-man Stoke 2-1 to strengthen its hold on fourth place in the league.

Eidur Gudjohnsen came off the bench to replace Roman Pavlyuchenko, who had a hamstring injury, in the first half and fire Spurs ahead at the Britannia Stadium before the home side then had Dean Whitehead sent off.

Stoke hit back through Matthew Etherington's penalty against his former club but Kranjcar's 77th-minute strike captured three more points for Spurs, who have 55 from 30 games.

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