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Tue 12 Feb 2008 02:51 AM

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Arsenal take five point lead in Premier League

Goals from Senderos and Adebayor ensure Arsene Wengers side stay unbeaten in 10 league games.

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.

United's slip-up in the Manchester derby had presented Arsenal with the chance to give themselves some breathing space. It was a tantalising 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 perfect for Senderos, who escaped Benni McCarthy's slack marking and powered a header past Brad 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 defence with a header that sent Flamini clear, only for the French midfielder to shoot straight at Friedel.

Few teams in Europe can match Arsenal's sense of adventure. Even the central defenders are given license to go forward, as William Gallas showed with a surging run and shot that deflected just wide.

It is a year since Fabregas found himself in hot water for aiming a petulant tirade at Mark Hughes's defensive tactics after Blackburn ground out an FA Cup draw at the Emirates.

Blackburn were marginally more aggressive this time and could have been level before half-time despite being out-played for long periods.

Brett Emerton's cross picked out McCarthy and he should have done better than glance a weak header away from goal. Even then Roque Santa Cruz almost converted the South African's miscue with a diving header at the far post.

Santa Cruz was off-target again with a lunging effort from Bruno Berner's cross moments later.

Blackburn winger David Bentley has prospered to such an extent since leaving Arsenal two years ago that he is now regarded as one of England's brightest stars.

He forced Jens Lehmann into action after the break with a free-kick which the Arsenal keeper scrambled away.

Arsenal were quickly back in the ascendancy though. Eduardo lifted a pass to Alexander Hleb on the opposite side of the penalty area and the Belarus winger crashed his shot against a post.

Adebayor was next to threaten with a low shot after leaving Andre Ooijer for dead but Friedel saved well.

Fabregas went close with a 20-yard shot that skimmed wide after good interplay between Hleb and Eduardo.

But Rovers refused to cave in and Friedel denied Adebayor twice in quick succession. The American keeper's best save was yet to come as he sprang to his right to keep out Hleb's stinging drive.

Adebayor delivered the knockout blow in stoppage time when he collected Hleb's pass and drove his shot past Friedel. United have been warned.

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