Arsenal return to top of Premiership table

Robin van Persie scored the late winner for Arsenal in a 3-2 win over Sunderland in the Premier League that returned the Gunners to the top of the table on Sunday.

In a busy day’s programme, Avram Grant finally won his first Premier League game as coach of Chelsea in a 1-0 win over Bolton.

Fernando Torres scored in the 90th minute to salvage a 2-2 draw for Liverpool against Tottenham and Michael Owen marked his return from minor surgery with a goal in Newcastle’s 3-2 win over Everton.

Arsenal were up 2-0 after 14 minutes thanks to van Persie’s first goal and another from Philippe Senderos, before Sunderland replied through Ross Wallace and Kenwyne Jones.

”After 15 minutes, the game looked to be easy and maybe we convinced ourselves of that as well,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ”Part of our mental focus went — when you do that at this level, you pay for it.”

Also on Sunday, it was: Blackburn 2, Birmingham 1; Manchester City 3, Middlesbrough 1; Reading 1, Derby 0; and Fulham 0, Portsmouth 2.

Arsenal lead the Premier League standings with 22 points, followed by Manchester United with 20. The Red Devils had moved into the top spot on Saturday for the first time this season with a 4-0 win over Wigan. Also on Saturday, Aston Villa beat West Ham 1-0.

Manchester City are third with 19 points, with Liverpool in fourth with 16.

Van Persie scored the winner in the 80th minute, after taking a cross from substitute Theo Walcott. He had put Arsenal ahead in the seventh minute with a shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon then pushed away a header from Emmanuel Adebayor, but could not stop Senderos from scoring with a low shot in the 14th.

Sunderland pulled a goal back in the 25th minute, with Wallace scoring from the rebound after Jones had a shot saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Jones headed into goal in the 48th minute to draw the Black Cats level.

Sunderland defender Paul McShane was sent off in the 90th minute for a tackle on midfielder Alexander Hleb.

”You have to look at the positives,” Sunderland manager Roy Keane said. ”The lads gave it their all.”

Tottenham were seconds away from winning their first away match this season. But Torres rose to meet a cross from Steve Finnan at the far post to head past Robinson and draw the match.

Both managers were disappointed.

”We were controlling the game and we didn’t take our chances — you can’t explain that,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said.

Tottenham manager Martin Jol said he felt ”rotten” about the draw, which left Spurs in 17th place.

”There is a lot to come from this team, but we must start climbing the table,” Jol said.

Andriy Voronin put Liverpool ahead in the 12th minute after a blunder by Paul Robinson. England’s first-choice goalkeeper fumbled the save from Steven Gerrard’s free kick and the ball fell to the feet of Voronin to hit home.

Tottenham equalised through Robbie Keane in the 45th, who took a header from Dimitar Berbatov to score past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Keane scored his second goal to put Spurs in the lead in the 47th.

Robinson’s deep kick was headed on by Berbatov into the path of Keane, who beat Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher to score.

Chelsea won their first Premier League game since Grant took over from Jose Mourinho on September 19. Grant had coached Chelsea to a loss and a draw in the league, as well as wins in the League Cup and Champions League.

The Blues also ended a 460-minute goal drought in the league when Salomon Kalou scored in the 41st minute.

In other good news for the Blues, midfielder Frank Lampard returned from a thigh injury that had kept him out since August 25.

Grant said he was relishing the challenge of his job.

”When you are at a big club you always have pressure if you want to achieve the best,” he said. ”There is extra pressure if you want to change the way Chelsea play.

”I like to put pressure on myself. The name of the game is pressure. It is not a game for weakness.”

Owen watched from the bench as Newcastle took the lead through a 42nd-minute goal from Nicky Butt. Everton levelled with a goal from Andy Johnson in the 53rd minute.

Owen, who had minor surgery on stomach and groin injuries eight days ago, came on as a substitute in the 74th minute.

He helped set up Emre Belozoglu’s goal in the 86th, and then got on the scoresheet by deflecting a free kick from Emre into goal in the 90th minute.

”It’s only a minor thing and I have still got all the stitches in,” Owen said. ”I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I was disappointed not to actually start.”

Magpies goalkeeper Shay Given conceded an own-goal soon after for the game to finish 3-2.

Elano scored twice for Manchester City — after taking a pass from Michael Johnson in the 33rd and with a free kick in the 63rd.

City went ahead in the 10th minute with an own goal headed in by Middlesbrough defender Chris Riggott.

David Bentley put Blackburn ahead in the 15th minute with his third goal in four games. He received the ball from David Dunn with his back to goal and spun around to score.

Benni McCarthy scored from a penalty kick in the 56th minute for Blackburn’s second. Birmingham pulled a goal back from Cameron Jerome in the 68th.

Kevin Doyle headed in Reading’s winner in the 64th to end a two-match losing streak.

Portsmouth moved up to fifth with their win at Fulham. Pompey scored through Benjani Mwaruwari and Hermann Hreidarsson. — Sapa-AP

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