Vermaelen double helps Arsenal crush Wigan

Fernando Torres scored twice as Liverpool battled to a 3-2 Premier League win at West Ham United on Saturday after the Londoners had twice pegged them back.

Belgian centre back Thomas Vermaelen was a less likely two-goal hero as his double set up Arsenal for a 4-0 home thrashing of Wigan Athletic - emphatically avoiding a hat-trick of defeats after losses to Manchester United and City.

Aston Villa also gained ground on the leaders with a 2-0 home victory over bottom side Portsmouth, who are still without a point after six games.

Promoted Burnley's good start continued when they beat Sunderland 3-1 with two goals on his debut for on-loan striker David Nugent, Birmingham City beat Hull City 1-0 away while Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City drew 1-1.

Liverpool and Villa move on to 12 points -- joining Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur -- while Chelsea lead the way with a maximum 15 points.

There are four games on Sunday, including the Manchester derby and Chelsea versus Spurs at Stamford Bridge. BURST THROUGH

Liverpool went ahead after 20 minutes at Upton Park when Torres burst through in the area to stab the ball home from a narrow angle.

However, West Ham, with only one win over the visitors in nine years, equalised with an Alessandro Diamanti penalty on his debut after Zavon Hines, who hit a post early on, was brought down by Jamie Carragher.

Dirk Kuyt restored Liverpol's lead after 41 minutes when he diverted a Steven Gerrard header into the net only for Carlton Cole to level again at the end of the half with a sharp glancing header.

The visitors gradually exerted more pressure in the second half and took the points when Torres nodded in Ryan Babel's cross after 75 minutes.

"He's scoring goals and he was on fire today with the two goals for us," Gerrard told ESPN when asked about criticism of Spain forward Torres's early season form.

"He's been playing OK to me. People are talking about it, but those are the standards he's set."

Liverpool's third win in a row after a sticky start to the season has lifted them back into the top four.

"We can enjoy tomorrow now," Gerrard said of Sunday's two big games. "It was important we got our three points in the bag today as the sides above us are going to drop points."


Arsenal began the day nine points behind Chelsea having lost their two Manchester awaydays but were back to their imperious best on home soil.

Their early control was rewarded after 25 minutes when Vermaelen headed in a corner.

The Belgian, already looking an astute summer signing after joining from Ajax Amsterdam for a reported 10 million pounds, doubled the lead with a superbly taken left footed curler four minutes into the second half.

Emmanuel Eboue got the third on the hour when he diverted an Eduardo Da Silva shot and Cesc Fabregas backheeled a late fourth to take Arsenal's goal tally to 17 in five league games.

"We scored four today and we could have scored more. That shows we have potential," manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.

"It is good for the confidence of the team that we didn't concede and I think we will be more solid as we get used to the way we want to play.

"I believe we have produced quality performances since the start of the season but weren't rewarded twice," he added.

"Today we have shown attitude, quality, fluency and I'm very optimistic there is something special in this team."