Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chelsea back on top of Premiership as Gunners ambushed by Hull

LONDON (AFP) - Chelsea reclaimed pole position in the English Premier League's title battle after Arsenal slumped to a shock home defeat by top flight newcomers Hull.
Chelsea's 2-0 win at Stoke left them top on goal difference from Liverpool, whose 2-0 derby win over Everton means they have matched the Londoners' return of four wins and two draws from their opening six league games.
Champions Manchester United climbed into the top half of the table for the first time this season with a 2-0 win at home to Bolton in which Cristiano Ronaldo opened his league account for the season with a controversial penalty.
But there was no relief for Newcastle's long-suffering supporters. A 2-1 home defeat by Blackburn leaves the Magpies mired in the relegation zone and underlined the scale of the task facing interim manager Joe Kinnear, who is due to take charge from Monday.
Hull became only the second side to beat Arsenal in 60 matches at the Emirates Stadium -- and the first since West Ham in April 2007 -- after coming from behind to win 2-1.
Arsenal were below par but still looked set for victory when Paul McShane bundled Theo Walcott's cross over his own line early in the second half.
But Hull equalised in spectacular fashion when their Brazilian playmaker Geovanni beat Manuel Almunia with a dipping shot from nearly 30 yards out.
Minutes later, Daniel Cousin lost Gunners skipper William Gallas to meet a corner with a superb near-post header and Hull held on for a famous win.
Chelsea were put on track to victory by right-back Jose Bosingwa, who fired fired in his first goal for the club from an acute angle ten minutes before half-time. Nicolas Anelka then made sure of the points with just under quarter of an hour left.
Liverpool -- who surrendered top spot when they were held at home by Stoke last weekend -- reasserted their title credentials with a derby victory sealed by Fernando Torres's second half double.
At Old Trafford, Ronaldo made it two goals in as many games with a controversial 60th-minute penalty -- television replays showing that Jlloyd Samuel had taken the ball cleanly when the Portugal winger went to ground.
Wayne Rooney added his first goal for United since April to make sure of the points but even United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted the dubious penalty had constituted a "break" for his side.
Bolton boss Gary Megson branded referee Rob Styles's decision "a complete howler."
Aston Villa's fine start to the season continued with a 2-1 win over Sunderland lifting Martin O'Neill's side up to third place.
Djibril Cisse's tenth-minute opener for Sunderland was cancelled out by Ashley Young's 25-yard free-kick and John Carew's deft back-heel finish won the game for Villa.
West Ham made it two league wins out of two for new manager Gianfranco Zola with a 2-1 win at London rivals Fulham, who conceded goals to Carlton Cole and Matt Etherington in quick succession at the end of the first half before losing Andy Johnson to a second yellow card.
A Danny Murphy penalty gave Fulham hope after the break but West Ham were able to close out the match against tiring opponents.
First-half headers from Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz put Blackburn in control at St James' Park with Michael Owen scoring a consolation effort from the spot six minutes after the break.
"We can't play as badly as we did in the first half and expect to get a result," Owen said afterwards before going on to admit that confidence in the Magpies dressing room was currently "lower than a snake's belly."
A close-range strike from Swedish defender Jonas Olsson was enough to earn West Brom a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough, the club their manager Tony Mowbray served for most of his playing career. It was the Baggies' first away win since they reclaimed their place in the top flight.

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