Wed, Feb 13, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Arsenal top Rovers, go five points clear

AFP , LONDON

Arsenal's Bacary Sagna jumps over Blackburn Rovers' Stephen Warnock during their English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London on Monday

PHOTO: AP

Arsenal moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League as goals from Philippe Senderos and Emmanuel Adebayor secured a 2-0 win over Blackburn on Monday.

Arsene Wenger's side took full advantage of Manchester United's defeat on Sunday to open up a substantial advantage over the reigning champions.

If the Gunners go on to take United's crown this could prove to be a defining weekend in the race for the title.

After a brief wobble in December, Arsenal are unbeaten in 10 league games and show no sign of nerves as their duel with United hots up.

But for Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel's heroics at the Emirates Stadium the leaders would have won by more.

This was the kind of gritty display that is not always Arsenal's trademark and it proved they are prepared to get their hands dirty to win the title.

"It has been a very good weekend for us after the results on Sunday," Wenger said. "We were under pressure to get the win but we controlled the game and Friedel kept them in it."

"We are in a good position and believe we can do it but we know it is far from over. We will have to fight until the last minute of the championship," he said.

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes added: "We were disappointed to concede so early but I was delighted with the response. We passed it around on a par with Arsenal after that."

"Two-nil is a little bit harsh on us. I thought the performance merited more than that. But Arsenal are in pole position and if they keep winning they will win the title," he said.

United's slip-up in the Manchester derby had presented Arsenal with the chance to give themselves some breathing space. It was a tantalizing prospect and clearly added an extra edge to their play.

They were razor sharp early on, with Eduardo setting the tone as his penetrating run earned a fourth-minute corner.

Eduardo took the set-piece himself and his teasing cross was just right for Senderos, who eluded striker Benni McCarthy and powered a header past Friedel.

Wenger's side should have been further ahead after a sublime one-touch move gave Mathieu Flamini a clear sight of goal.

Adebayor swept a volleyed pass out to Cesc Fabregas, who wrong-footed the Rovers defense with a header that sent Flamini clear, only for the French midfielder to shoot straight at Friedel.

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