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10-man Arsenal hold Chelsea as Spurs emerge leaders

London: English champions Arsenal had their captain Patrick Vieira sent off but fought back to earn a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in a pulsating London derby at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Gianfranco Zola gave Chelsea a 34th minute lead with a 40-metre free kick that bamboozled Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, before Vieira picked up the eighth red card of his Arsenal career for a second booking in the 50th minute.

But substitute Kolo Toure stooped to head home on the line in the 59th minute after Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini had parried a shot from Sylvain Wiltord.

The draw denied Chelsea revenge for last season’s FA Cup final defeat by the Double winners and maintained Arsenal’s unbeaten run in the league, which dates back to last December.

It also left the Gunners second in the table with eight points, two behind north London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur pending Monday’s clash between third-placed Liverpool, who have seven points, and Newcastle United at Anfield.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who called on referee Andy D’Urso to review his red card for Vieira’s challenge on Jesper Gronkjaer, paid tribute to his side’s gutsy performance. “At 1-0 down, 40 minutes to go, with 10 men and on an away ground, you need great strength and we have shown that again,” he said.

Bolton Wanderers beat Aston Villa 1-0 with a Michael Ricketts penalty in the second half of Sunday’s earlier match.

Another defeat for Leeds

Meanwhile, Leeds United went down 1-2 by newly-promoted Birmingham City on Saturday. After losing 0-1 midweek to Sunderland, Leeds slumped to another defeat after only showing flashes of their true potential against a gritty City side at St Andrews. Terry Venables’ side was sunk by fine goals from Paul Devlin and Damien Johnson. Leeds, however, equalised briefly through Lee Bowyer.

New league leaders Tottenham Hotspur also had a battle on their hands at White Hart Lane but came through for a 2-1 win over Southampton thanks to skipper Teddy Sheringham’s 90th-minute penalty.

Tore Andre Flo scored on his Sunderland debut to deny Manchester United in a fiery 1-1 draw that was marred by the late sending off of Roy Keane. (Reuters)

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