Leaders Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-2

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/E/Epl.jpg' class='caption'> Champions Arsenal survived a frantic finish from visitors Chelsea to start the new year with a 3-2 victory at Highbury on Wednesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Champions Arsenal survived a frantic finish from visitors Chelsea to start the new year with a 3-2 victory at Highbury on Wednesday. The Gunners led through Marcel Desailly's early own goal and went 3-0 ahead with two late goals in two minutes from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Thierry Henry. The Blues matched that feat with Mario Stanic and Emmanuel Petit on target in the 85th and 86th minute, but Arsenal held on to take all three points. Arsenal looked to increase their lead at the top of the English Premier League standings when they hosted second placed Chelsea at Highbury on Wednesday. Claudio Ranieri's side made a bright start to the game and would have taken the lead in the second minute had Enrique de Lucas' shot from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's fine pass been on target. But Arsenal took the lead in the ninth minute with their first attack of the game. Robert Pires played a fine pass to Ashley Cole, who delivered an even better cross towards Dennis Bergkamp from the left wing. The Dutchman got the slightest of touches before Marcel Desailly diverted the ball into his own net. Graeme la Saux forced David Seaman into a great save at the other end of the pitch in the 22nd minute and the England international goalkeeper reacted quickly to stop Hasselbaink from poking in the rebound. Substitute Giovanni van Bronckhorst appeared to have sealed the win for the Gunners in the 81st minute following a break orchestrated by Henry. Van Bronckhorst with a first time shot from outside the penalty area for a 2-0 lead. Henry then made it 3-0 one minute later after breaking from inside of his own half. The Frenchman tormented defender William Gallas before unleashing a shot that somehow slipped underneath goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini's body. Another substitute - Mario Stanic - pulled a goal back for Chelsea in the 85th minute though. The Croatian headed in after Hasselbaink had knocked Emmanuel Petit's corner kick across goal. Former Gunner Petit then made it 3-2 a minute later with the fourth goal in the space of six minutes - sliding in to score after Seaman had failed to hold onto a long ball forward. The Blues threatened to grab an unlikely equaliser in injury-time, but nobody was able to connect with Jesper Gronkjaer's cross from the left wing and Arsenal held on to win. They now sit eight points ahead of Chelsea at the top of the league. (AP)

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