Theo Walcott lifts Arsenal, Manchester City sink Liverpool

Theo WalcottArsenal's Theo Walcott, second right, scores his second goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at Upton Park, London (AP)

Theo Walcott's double fired Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win at West Ham United on Thursday and title favourites Manchester City moved ominously into second spot by beating Liverpool 2-1.

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 victory to lift the Gunners to 39 points.

"When you do not win for four games it's important to come back for the confidence level of your environment," manager Arsene Wenger told a news conference.

"For us we have another good game now on Sunday at Newcastle who are in full confidence as well so that will be another test. I believe we have had a difficult period just now but honestly that was mainly down to the schedule we had."

City, who have been imperious at home this season, fell behind to an early goal by Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho. Captain Vincent Kompany headed the equaliser before Alvaro Negredo grabbed the winner in first-half stoppage time.

Chelsea are third on 37 points after Eden Hazard earned an unconvincing 1-0 home victory over Swansea City.

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 position, three points 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 took the lead but were reduced to nine men before halftime after Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were sent off. Stoke manager Mark Hughes was also dismissed.

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