Arsenal maintain lead in English Premier League


London : Eduardo da Silva hit his third goal in two games as Arsenal maintained their two-point advantage over Manchester United at the top of football’s English Premier League.

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The Croatian forward, who had scored twice in Arsenal’s 4-1 win at Everton Saturday, struck after two minutes, and Emmanuel Adebayor added a second from an acute angle 16 minutes later as Arsenal won 2-0 at home to West Ham United Wednesday.

United were rather less impressive, but did enough to beat struggling Birmingham City 1-0 at Old Trafford, Carlos Tevez getting the only goal of the game.

The Argentine striker was later carried off with an ankle problem, and is now doubtful for United’s FA Cup tie against Aston Villa next weekend.

Chelsea are three points further back after coming from behind to beat Fulham in the west London derby.

Fulham, in their first game under manager Roy Hodgson, had taken the lead from a 10th-minute Danny Murphy penalty, awarded after Moritz Volz had been tripped by Joe Cole.

But Salomon Kalou levelled nine minutes into the second half as Alex headed a corner back across goal.

Eight minutes later, Michael Ballack was tugged by Clint Dempsey, and got up to convert the penalty himself.

Fulham, who sacked manager Lawrie Sanchez last week, remain two points adrift of safety.

In the day’s late game, Martin Laursen headed an 85th-minute winner for Aston Villa, as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 to go sixth.

Olof Mellburg had capitalized on some sloppy marking to head Villa into a first-half lead, before Jermain Defoe levelled with 11 minutes remaining.

Portsmouth won 2-0 at Reading, who had Ibrahima Sonko sent off after just three minutes.

Although Niko Kranjcar missed the subsequent penalty, goals from Sol Campbell and John Utaka sealed the win.

Everton thrust Middlesbrough back into relegation trouble as goals from Andy Johnson and James McFadden gave them a 2-0 win at the Riverside.

The Toffees are fifth, a point behind Liverpool, although they have played two more games, while Middlesbrough lie just three points above the drop zone.

Bottom of the table Derby are away at Bolton Wednesday, while Sunderland travel to Blackburn, Newcastle host Manchester City, and Liverpool take on Wigan.

All players in Tuesday’s games wore black armbands, and each match was preceded by a minute’s applause as a tribute to the Motherwell captain Phil O’Donnell, who died of heart failure during his side’s game against Dundee United on Boxing Day.