Arsenal Beats Fulham to Move Atop Premier League; Chelsea, Everton Tie 1-1

Arsenal beat Fulham 2-1 to move past Manchester United atop English soccer’s Premier League, while Chelsea missed a chance to take the league lead after drawing 1- 1 with Everton.

Samir Nasri scored both goals as Arsenal went one point ahead of United, whose game at Blackpool was postponed by a frozen pitch. Jermaine Beckford’s late goal gave Everton the tie at Chelsea, which now trails Arsenal by two points.

Manchester City strengthened its hold on fourth place with a 1-0 win over Bolton, Birmingham tied 1-1 with Tottenham, Blackburn beat Wolverhampton 3-0 and Wigan drew 2-2 with Stoke.

Arsenal ended a two-game losing run at the Emirates Stadium in north London to jump to the head of the standings.

Nasri opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he cut past two Fulham defenders in the area and fired a shot into the top corner. Fulham tied the game in the 30th minute when a clash of heads between Arsenal’s Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny, who was taken off the field on a stretcher, allowed Diomansy Kamara to get free and score.

Kamara had a chance to put the visitors in front just before halftime when he got behind the Arsenal defense only to be denied by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

A great individual effort from Nasri then put the Gunners in front with 15 minutes remaining. Nasri took a pass from Robin van Persie at the edge of the area, ran through a group of defenders, pushed the ball around goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, then cut a shot back into the net from an angle.

Midseason Slump

Fulham pushed toward the tying goal, with Fabianski forced into a diving save against Zoltan Gera in the 88th minute. The loss extends Fulham’s away winless league run to 26 games.

Everton’s comeback at Chelsea continued the Blues’ midseason slump and stopped them taking back the top spot.

Didier Drogba gave Chelsea, which has won just one of its past six matches, the lead in the 42nd minute with a penalty after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard took Nicolas Anelka down.

The Toffees earned the draw with four minutes remaining as Beckford, who earlier replaced Louis Saha, headed in a cross from close range.

Manchester City moved one point behind Chelsea with its home win over Birmingham. Carlos Tevez scored in the fourth minute for City, which finished with 10 men after Aleksandar Kolarov received a second yellow card 11 minutes from the end.

David Dunn, Brett Emerton and Ryan Nelsen scored the goals as Blackburn rebounded from last week’s 7-1 loss to Manchester United with a win that dropped Wolves into last place behind West Ham on goal difference.

Tom Cleverle’s goal five minutes before halftime gave Wigan the home draw with Stoke. Craig Gardner’s scored in the 81st minute to give Birmingham the tie with Tottenham, which fell three points behind Manchester City in the battle for fourth place and the final spot in Europe’s Champions League.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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