LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-2 to move back to the top of the Premier League after Robin van Persie secured victory with a well worked winner 10 minutes from time.
It was Arsenal's 10th successive win in all competitions but they made hard work of it yesteday after racing into a 2-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes before allowing Sunderland to pull level early in the second half.
Manchester United, who beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 on Saturday and led the table overnight, slipped back to second, with Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City consolidating their third place with their fifth straight home league win, 3-1 over Middlesbrough.
Liverpool, beaten 1-0 by Olympique Marseille in the Champions League at Anfield on Wednesday, were just 90 seconds away from another home defeat when Fernando Torres scored with a header to force a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, whose goals came from Robbie Keane either side of halftime.
Chelsea scored for the first time in five league matches to win 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers where Salomon Kalou grabbed the only goal after 41 minutes.
Arsenal's victory took them on to 22 points from eight matches, followed by United on 20 from nine and Manchester City, 19 from nine.
Liverpool are fourth with 16 points from eight games.
Portsmouth, who won 2-0 at Fulham, are fifth with 15 points.
RELIEVED WENGER Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was a relieved man after their victory over Sunderland.
''We allowed them to come back to 2-1, then 2-2 and it became a test of our mental strength, resilience and quality,'' he told Setanta Sports.
''We lacked a little bit of sharpness. It is always very difficult when you have played away in the Champions League in midweek, but to get the three points today was good.'' There was some good and bad news for England coach Steve McClaren.
Frank Lampard returned to the Chelsea side after missing the last seven matches with a torn thigh muscle while Michael Owen, who had a groin operation last week, came on as a late substitute and scored in Newcastle United's 3-2 win over Everton at St James' Park.
They should both be available for England's important Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia and Russia later this month, but Andy Johnson, who scored for Everton in the defeat at Newcastle, pulled out of the squad with an ankle injury.
Dean Ashton, who injured his knee in West Ham's 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday, is doubtful.
TWO GOALS There will not be any Arsenal players in the England team in those matches, but they lead the table thanks to two goals from Dutchman Van Persie and one from Swiss defender Philippe Senderos against Sunderland.
Van Persie put the Gunners ahead with a blistering free-kick after seven minutes while Senderos made it 2-0 with a scrappy goal seven minutes later.
Sunderland came back into the match with goals from Ross Wallace and Kenwyne Jones before Van Persie scored Arsenal's late winner after being freed up by substitute Theo Walcott.
Sunderland ended the match with 10 men after Paul McShane was shown a 90th-minute red card for a clumsy challenge on Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb.
Sunderland are 16th as a result of that defeat, below Middlesbrough only on alphabetical order. It is tight at the wrong end of the table with just three points separating the bottom eight clubs.
Derby stay bottom with five points after losing 1-0 at Reading, while Bolton also have five points after losing to Chelsea. Spurs climbed out of the bottom three thanks to their point at Liverpool, but Fulham slipped to 18th spot after losing to Portsmouth.
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