LONDON Dec 10 Arsenal shoved Chelsea off the top of the Premier League, if only for a day and by the slimmest of margins, after beating Stoke City 3-1 on Saturday while results elsewhere plunged troubled West Ham United into the drop zone.
With Chelsea hosting West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, when third-placed Liverpool also host West Ham, the Gunners had a golden chance to take the lead on goal difference but they had some nervous moments on the way.
A rash challenge by Granit Xhaka on Joe Allen gave Charlie Adam the chance to put Stoke ahead from the penalty spot, on the Scot's 31st birthday, after 29 minutes and he despatched it without fuss.
Goals either side of halftime by Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil, who netted with a rare header, put Arsenal back in front against a side that had never taken a point off them at the Emirates.
Walcott stabbed in Hector Bellerin's low cross for the equaliser three minutes before the break and Ozil's looping header made it 2-1 five minutes after the interval.
Substitute Alex Iwobi then ran through to give Arsenal the two-goal victory they needed to top the table on goals scored, with the London teams tied on 34 points and the same goal difference of 21.
Arsenal have scored 36 goals to Chelsea's 32.
Manchester City, with 30 points, can move up to third place ahead of Liverpool later on Saturday if they win at champions Leicester City.
West Ham dropped into the bottom three without kicking a ball after Swansea City won 3-0 at home to Sunderland in a battle at the bottom.
The defeat ended Sunderland's run of three wins in four games and sent them back to the basement on 11 points while Swansea clambered clear on 12 and ahead of the Hammers on goal difference.
Swansea's goals came courtesy of a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty in the 50th and a brace from Fernando Llorente.
The win was Swansea's second under American Bob Bradley, the favourite with British bookmakers to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job, and made it back-to-back victories at the Liberty Stadium for his team.
Hull City, who drew 3-3 at home to Crystal Palace, are second from bottom.
That match was Alan Pardew's 300th as a Premier League manager and the Palace boss could crack a smile at the end with Fraizer Campbell grabbing an 89th-minute equaliser to ease the pressure on him.
Hull, who came from 2-1 behind with goals from Adama Diomande in the 72nd and Jake Livermore six minutes later, had been looking good for a win that would have taken them out of the bottom three.
Burnley scored twice in the space of three first-half minutes to beat Bournemouth 3-2 at Turf Moor in the first Premier League meeting between the sides, ending a run of three defeats in a row for the home side.
In the early kick off, Watford beat Everton by the same scoreline for their first victory over the Merseyside team since 1987 in any competition. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)