Arsenal, Middlesbrough, West Ham join log-jam at the top

August 31st, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 31 (DPA) Arsenal, Middlesbrough and West Ham United moved alongside Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League thanks to confident victories.Arsenal thumped Newcastle United 3-0, Middlesbrough earned a 2-1 win over promoted Stoke City, while West Ham beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1.

The wins lift them all to six points, the same as Chelsea and Liverpool.

Robin van Persie scored twice as Arsenal ran out easy winners over Newcastle, who could have gone top on their own with a win at the Emirates.

The Dutchman scored the first from the penalty spot after a controversial hand-ball decision against Charles N’Zogbia, and hammered the second in from eight yards before Denilson finished off a lovely move to put the result beyond doubt.

Having lost at Fulham last weekend, Arsenal were back closer to their best Saturday, a point emphasised by striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

“We put in a little bit of heart and as soon as we believed in our quality we created chances today,” he said.

“Every single player put in a little bit more, it was very important to show character and personality and we have done that quite well this season.

“We just enjoyed ourselves, we enjoyed playing for Arsenal. Playing well is good, but winning is better.”

Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth earned their first points of the season with heavy away victories, while West Bromwich Albion earned their first points of the season with a 0-0 draw at Bolton.

Stoke’s Amdy Faye was sent off for a nasty challenge in the 38th minute and Afonso Alves made them pay when he curled in a superb free kick to put Middlesbrough ahead.

Stewart Downing missed a penalty chance to double their lead and Justin Hoyte equalised for Stoke against the run of play, only for Tuncay to net the winner five minutes from time.

“We have been good value for at least seven points from three games, but that’s a good start for us,” Southgate said, the only points dropped coming at Liverpool last week.

“It’s our best start for a number of years and we know the team can grow together and improve together, and they will have to take on different challenges, like they did today.”

West Ham joined them on six points after a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, with Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole completing the scoring in injury time.

Calum Davenport and Christopher Samba had put them 2-0 up but Jason Roberts pulled one back, before Robert Green saved a penalty early in the second half.

“It was a fantastic save and we needed a couple more from him afterwards. It was 4-1 but really it could have been any score,” West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said.

“I’m just delighted we got the win. It’s been a tough week after the performance at Manchester City and the way we played for much of the cup tie against Macclesfield.”

Amr Zaki scored twice as Wigan went to Hull and routed them 5-0, while Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Portsmouth as they won 3-0 at struggling Everton.

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