Arsenal came from behind to beat Birmingham and go second in the table but the victory was tarnished by a late red card for teenager Jack Wilshere.
The visitors went ahead against the run of play when striker Nikola Zigic headed home Keith Fahey’s cross.
Samir Nasri levelled from the spot after a foul on Marouane Chamakh before Chamakh rounded Ben Foster to put Arsenal ahead early in the second half.
Wilshere, 18, was given his marching orders for an ugly lunge on Zigic.
The England midfielder’s studs were showing as he went over the ball and took out the Serbian striker’s standing leg.
And ironically, the Gunners’ third red card of the season came after boss Arsene Wenger used his programme notes to call for managers and referees to get together in an attempt to clarify the rules over bad tackles.
Wilshere’s indiscretion aside, it was an efficient comeback from Arsenal who, after defeats in their previous two games and with a trip to Manchester City looming next weekend, simply could not afford to drop points.
And Wenger will be delighted to have seen Chamakh continue his impressive start to life in English football with two decisive moments.
Arsenal were quickly into their trademark groove. Wilshere won the ball high up the pitch and played a one-two with Chamakh before sliding the Moroccan striker through on goal. His side-footed effort was destined for the bottom corner before it was brilliantly blocked by the lunging Stephen Carr.
At the other end, Roger Johnson was given a free header from a corner, but directed it straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
Carr was lucky to escape without a yellow card for an over-the-ball tackle on Chamakh and from the resulting free-kick, Sebastien Squillaci headed the ball into the net, only to be denied for a narrow offside.
The red tide showed no sign of abating, with Ben Foster bursting off his line to smother a shot from Andrey Arshavin and Gael Clichy slicing wide with his less-favoured right foot.
Despite all Arsenal’s pressure, Birmingham took the lead against the run of play when Fahey whipped over a pin-point cross for the 6ft 8in Zigic, who towered above the Gunners defence and lopped a header past Fabianski.
And it was almost 2-0 moments later as a quick free-kick took Arsenal by surprise, only for Zigic and Lee Bowyer to get in each other’s way as they fought to convert the loose ball.
And how Birmingham were made to pay for that miss. From Arsenal’s next attack, Chamakh went down under a challenge from Scott Dann and referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot.
The decision incensed the visiting players, who felt Chamakh was already going to ground, but Nasri kept his composure to send Foster the wrong way.
Wenger spent most of the first period with a look of barely disguised anger on his face and whatever his words at half-time, they had the desired effect as the Gunners took the lead within two minutes of the re-start.
Alex Song’s flick found Wilshere, who with two quick touches transferred the ball to Chamakh.
The Moroccan still had work to do, but with Carr and Dann perhaps wary of making another challenge in the box, he danced past the pair before taking the ball round Foster and slotting home his fifth goal of the season.
From then on, it seemed a matter of whether Arsenal could add gloss to the scoreline, with Wilshere bursting into space on the left before firing high and wide.
The home fans rose to greet Nicklas Bendtner in his first appearance of the season following a groin injury and the Dane was inches away from getting on the end of a cross from his fellow substitute Tomas Rosicky with Foster just beating him to the ball.
The Czech winger was the next to test Foster, with a powerful drive which the England goalkeeper did well to save at the first attempt.
Wilshere’s dismissal ensured the game ended on a sour note for the Gunners fans, but news of Manchester United’s slip-up at home against West Brom and a look at the league table should be enough to put the smile back on their faces.
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