Arsenal moved back into third place in the Barclays Premier League with a comfortable 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Hull at the Emirates Stadium.

Goals from Denilson, Eduardo and Abou Diaby earned Arsene Wenger's side all three points in a bad-tempered affair.

But the Gunners also had to give credit to goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who saved a penalty from Geovanni when the home side led 1-0.

Hull, who beat Arsenal at the Emirates last season, had the first opportunity within the opening minute.

Craig Fagan's 20-yard shot was just off target but Hull were clearly in the mood for a battle.

Moments later Almunia had to deal with a free-kick by Stephen Hunt as the City midfielder looked to surprise the Arsenal goalkeeper at the near post.

The home side were clearly missing the midfield artistry of the injured Cesc Fabregas but Samir Nasri should have put them ahead in the 15th minute but shot tamely at Myhill.

Hull had enjoyed much of the possession in the early skirmishes but they had little reward in attack.

Arsenal finally shook off their lethargy in the 23rd minute when Eduardo tried to curl the ball beyond Myhill and into the corner of the net. But the Arsenal striker's effort was a yard wide of the target.

Wenger's side, without a string of first-choice players, found it difficult to break down stubborn Hull, who gave their hosts little time to settle on the ball.

A cross from Hunt in the 39th minute almost reached Fagan but Almunia collected the ball before the City striker could pounce.

Arsenal had found little rhythm in their play and Myhill, apart from a couple of long shots, had been relatively untroubled.

But the contest erupted shortly before the break when Nasri trod on the ankle of Richard Garcia as Arsenal prepared to take a free-kick.

Hunt then clashed with Nasri and a mass confrontation took place in front of referee Steve Bennett with Arsenal goalkeeper Almunia sprinting 100 yards to get involved.

Fagan tried to drag Hunt away from the incident as players from both sides became embroiled in ugly scenes. Bennett eventually booked both Hunt and Nasri when the fracas subsided.

Arsenal rubbed salt into Hull's wounds seconds later when Denilson scored from a free-kick after George Boateng had fouled Diaby 25-yards from goal.

Players from both sides appeared to continue their first-half spat in the tunnel as they left the pitch at the interval.

There was already plenty of bad blood between the two clubs stemming from last season when Fabregas was accused of spitting at City's assistant Brian Horton.

Hull replaced Nick Barmby at half-time with Seyi Olofinjana but nearly went two behind straight after the re-start.

Eduardo worked an opening for himself from Andrey Arshavin's pass, but the Croatia striker put his shot wide with just Myhill to beat.

There was more controversy in the 55th minute when referee Bennett awarded Hull a penalty after Mikael Silvestre had been adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Fagan.

But Almunia saved a poor Geovanni spot-kick and then Hunt headed the rebound wide of the target.

Worse was to come for Phil Brown's side in the 59th minute when Diaby broke into the penalty area and pulled the ball back for Eduardo to tap home.

Arsenal wrapped up the points in the 80th minute when Diaby played a one-two with Arshavin and fired past Myhill.

Hunt almost scored a consolation goal for the visitors with three minutes remaining but Almunia saved his volley.

The Arsenal goalkeeper's clearance then put substitute Theo Walcott in the clear at the opposite end but the England youngster put his lob just wide.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Andrey Arshavin
Football
Nick Barmby
Stephen Hunt
Mikael Silvestre
Premier League
Manuel Almunia
Craig Fagan
Denilson
Vassiriki Abou Diaby
Richard Garcia
Hull City
Stephen Hunt
Geovanni
Eduardo
Theo Walcott
George Boateng
Samir Nasri