LONDON: Aaron Ramsey, once Cardiff City’s youngest-ever player, scored two goals against his first club which handed Arsenal a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
The Wales midfielder grabbed his seventh and eighth league goals in 13 matches this season, to help Arsene Wenger’s side to a 3-0 victory at Cardiff City Stadium. German playmaker Mesut Ozil provided an inch-perfect cross for midfielder Ramsey to head in against his hometown and former side. Ramsey refused to celebrate the first-half goal, and the Cardiff fans stood to applaud their former star.
Replacement Matthieu Flamini doubled Arsenal’s lead late on, the Frenchman appearing with long sleeves rolled up, following the row about cutting his shirt last weekend. Again assist-master Ozil provided the set-up, sending Flamini through, and he fired in from 10 yards.
At the death Theo Walcott’s break allowed Ramsey to fire into the top corner, with the home fans again saluting their former star.
Everton jumped into the top four by thrashing Stoke 4-0 on Merseyside. Gerard Deulofeu, Seamus Coleman, Bryan Oviedo and Romelu Lukaku all scored to subdue Mark Hughes’s Stoke. Chelsea loan striker Lukaku’s late finish was his eighth league goal of the season, on his ninth appearance.
Manager Roberto Martinez’s men stole a 1-0 lead late in the first half thanks to Deulofeu’s finish. The Barcelona loan man played a one-two with Steven Pienaar, Gareth Barry tapped the back to him, and he fired in at the near post.
Moussa Sissoko’s thunderbolt fired Newcastle into the top five as the Magpies secured a fourth successive victory with a 2-1 win over West Brom.
The Frenchman’s 57th-minute strike from 25 yards killed off a spirited West Brom fightback after the Baggies had responded to Yoan Gouffran’s 36th-minute opener to level within eight minutes of the restart through Chris Brunt’s equally explosive finish.
His effort ensured the Magpies collected a fourth league win on the trot for the first time since the closing stages of the 2011-12 season, when they went on to finish fifth.
West Ham scored two late goals to ease past Fulham 3-0 at Upton Park, to move out of the relegation zone. Mohamed Diame’s heavily-deflected strike poached a 1-0 lead for West Ham just after the interval. Steve Sidwell argued play should have been stopped with Fulham team-mate Scott Parker down injured. Diame strode forward undeterred though, and registered the opening goal, by way of that deflection detour.
Substitute Ravel Morrison fired wide in the final 10 minutes amid tense exchanges. But just as West Ham’s frustrations grew, replacement Carlton Cole finished with his first touch, sweeping Stewart Downing’s low cross home. That was Cole’s seventh goal in his last six appearances against Fulham.
With time running out, substitute Joe Cole provided a finish to secure the points, and allow the Hammers to breathe that bit easier.
Norwich were able to cling onto a 1-0 advantage to see off spirited Crystal Palace who were aiming to rally for new boss Tony Pulis. Gary Hooper’s first-half finish from close range after good work from Nathan Redmond and Wes Hoolahan proved decisive, despite strong pressure from the visitors to Carrow Road. Martin Olsson cleared Barry Bannan’s goal-bound shot off the line as Norwich held out.
Sunderland had the ball in the back of the net against Aston Villa in the first half when former Villa midfielder Craig Gardner produced a smart finish. But that effort was ruled out for offside, and neither team could break the deadlock. Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini blazed over the bar from two yards out, and the game remained without a goal for the duration.