Walcott spurs Arsenal

Manchester United post nervy 3-2 win over Hull City

Theo Walcott's double fired Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League as the Gunners got their title challenge back on track with a 3-1 victory at West Ham United on Thursday.

When Carlton Cole opened the scoring for lowly West Ham just after the break Arsenal were staring at a fourth consecutive league match without a win but Walcott struck twice and Lukas Podolski sealed the win to lift the Gunners to 39 points.

Chelsea are second with 37 after Eden Hazard's goal earned an unconvincing 1-0 home victory over Swansea City, although Christmas leaders Liverpool could leap above both London clubs with victory at Manchester City in the late kickoff.

Wayne Rooney scored his 150th league goal for Manchester United as they came from 2-0 down after 13 minutes to beat Hull City 3-2, James Chester's own goal clinching a fifth consecutive win for the champions in all competitions.

United moved up to seventh spot, three behind fifth-placed Everton whose hopes of completing 2013 without a league defeat at Goodison Park were ended by a 1-0 loss to bottom club Sunderland.

Loic Remy scored twice for sixth-placed Newcastle United in a 5-1 home win over Stoke City who had taken the lead but were reduced to nine men before halftime with Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson both sent off. Stoke manager Mark Hughes was also dismissed.

Tottenham Hotspur lost ground as they were held 1-1 at home by West Bromwich Albion in Tim Sherwood's first game in charge since being named as the permanent replacement for sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas.

It was a great afternoon for the three clubs who started the day in the bottom three with Crystal Palace moving out of the relegation zone at West Ham's expense thanks to a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

Fulham were 2-1 winners at Norwich City and only four points separate the bottom six clubs.

Cardiff City were trounced 3-0 at home by Southampton to raise more doubts over the future of embattled manager Malky Mackay who has fallen out of favour with owner Vincent Tan.

Arsenal arrested a slump in form with a vibrant performance in the London derby, although they had to do it the hard way after Wojciech Szczesny's mistake allowed Cole to open the scoring in the 46th minute at Upton Park. West Ham missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 and were punished when Walcott's scuffed shot made it 1-1.

The England wide man then headed Arsenal ahead and with the visitors now dominant Podolski, on for the injured Aaron Ramsey, marked his return from a long-standing injury to complete victory from Olivier Giroud's layoff.

United kick-started the festive programme, eventually, after a groggy start at Hull following the late arrival of the team bus to the KC Stadium.

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