Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey indulged his new scoring habit with two goals in a 3-0 win at his old club Cardiff City as the visitors opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Welshman Ramsey,who spent eight years with the Bluebirds until his move to north London in 2008,notched his 12th and 13th strikes of the season in all competitions and was applauded by the home fans in Arsenal’s 10th league win of the campaign.
Everton’s Spanish teenager Gerard Deulofeu,on loan from Barcelona,scored one goal and inspired his team mates to a 4-0 victory over Stoke City that took them into the top four.
Fulham manager Martin Jol was facing increased pressure after his relegation-threatened side went down 3-0 at fellow strugglers West Ham United,while Sunderland,second from bottom,drew 0-0 at mid-table Aston Villa.
Tony Pulis’s first game in charge of basement club Crystal Palace ended in a 1-0 defeat at Norwich City.
In the late kickoff,Moussa Sissoko produced a moment of magic to give Newcastle United all three points in a 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion.
The French midfielder struck a right-foot shot from 20 metres into the top corner after West Brom’s Chris Brunt had cancelled out Yoan Gouffran’s first-half opener.
Arsenal have 31 points from 13 games,ahead of Liverpool,Chelsea and Everton,all on 24. Newcastle are fifth on 23.
Liverpool,Chelsea and Manchester City play on Sunday,when seventh-placed champions Manchester United visit faltering Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal’s Ramsey got his first goal in the 29th minute in Wales after timing his arrival into the penalty area perfectly and glancing a fine header from Mesut Ozil’s cross beyond keeper David Marshall to give Arsene Wenger’s side the lead.
The 22-year-old Ramsey,who left Cardiff for Arsenal for five million pounds ($8.19 million) in 2008,did not celebrate in front of his former supporters and they in turn gave the midfielder an ovation of their own.
In the final minute,following another slick Arsenal attack,Ramsey drilled home his side’s third and his eighth goal in the league this term.
In between,Arsenal had dominated but it took until the 86th minute,when Mathieu Flamini made it 2-0 from Ozil’s pass,for the visitors to kill off Cardiff’s hopes of a comeback.
They were grateful,too,for a sharp save by Wojciech Szczesny from Fraizer Campbell with the game in the balance in the first half.
“It shows you how much Aaron Ramsey has improved,” Wenger told the BBC. “We came here two or three years ago and he had a nightmare here in a cup game,which shows you how much improved he is as a player.
“You are always torn between being happy to score and happy you can win the game but out of respect for the club where he was educated he didn’t celebrate.
“It was a very solid defensive performance that was needed against Cardiff. When you play first (before your rivals) you can only do your job and see what happens after. But if you do your job well you can relax.”
At Goodison Park,Deulofeu,on a season-long loan at Everton from the Nou Camp,was a constant threat to Mark Hughes’s visiting Stoke side.
The 19-year-old gave the hosts the lead on the stroke of halftime by exchanging passes with Steven Pienaar and Gareth Barry and firing in at the near post.
Deulofeu then crossed for Seamus Coleman to make it 2-0 just after the break,before Bryan Oviedo scored from 20 metres for the third before the hour mark.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku,on loan from Chelsea,claimed his eighth league goal in nine games after 79 minutes to complete Everton’s win.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez said of Deulofeu: “It was the most satisfying individual performance we had because he had to wait for so long to get his chance”.
Fulham manager Jol admitted this week he would be “worrying” if he was the club’s owner,following a run of four straight league defeats that sent the Cottagers into the bottom three.
However,his team never looked like arresting that slump against West Ham and did not even manage a shot on target at Upton Park.
Instead,Sam Allardyce’s side went ahead with a deflected Mohamed Diame effort after 47 minutes,and made the game safe through substitutes Carlton Cole and Joe Cole in the last eight minutes.
Afterwards Jol declared he was a “fighter” and added: “It’s part of my job to deal with pressure. It’s not that I’m not used to it but you have to keep your head cool,that’s for certain.”
Former Stoke coach Pulis has never been relegated in 21 years of management but his record looks under threat with Palace.
At Carrow Road,his side’s defensive weakness was exposed once again as Norwich striker Gary Hooper was allowed time to finish from close range after Wes Hoolahan’s cut-back on the half-hour mark.
Palace,bottom with seven points,are six points from the safety zone after winning just twice since gaining promotion from the Championship in May.
Sunderland moved one point ahead of Palace with their goalless draw at Villa Park,where Aston Villa supporter Prince William was in attendance.
($1 = 0.6105 British pounds)