Arsenal boost ahead of Monaco test
16 March 2015, 14:19
London - Arsenal's late-season surge in the Premier League gathered pace with a 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday, while Aston Villa ended its barren scoring run away from home in spectacular style at Sunderland.
Olivier Giroud inspired Arsenal's fifth straight league victory by scoring one and setting up Aaron Ramsey's goal at Emirates Stadium. Mathieu Flamini also netted as Arsene Wenger's team tightened its grip on third place and moved within a point of Manchester City, which visits Burnley later.
Villa had taken seven months to score four away goals in this season's Premier League, only for the team to double that amount in the first 45 minutes in a 4-0 win at Sunderland. Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor both scored twice.
The glut of goals sparked unrest and a mini-exodus among home fans at halftime, with some supporters confronting Sunderland manager Gus Poyet close to the dug-out. With 10 minutes left, the Stadium of Light appeared half-empty.
"When you are a fan and you see your team performing like we did in the first half, I would do the same," said the under-pressure Poyet, who described the display as "unacceptable."
Crystal Palace beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at home in a match marked by an outrageous 40-meter consolation strike by Matt Phillips for the visitors. West Bromwich Albion overcame Stoke 1-0 and Leicester drew 0-0 with relegation rival Hull.
Arsenal will head to Monaco for the second leg of its Champions League last-16 match on Wednesday in good spirit after boosting its chances of yet another season in Europe's top competition.
The Gunners are fighting with Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton for the two spots behind the current top two of Chelsea and City, and their form suggests they will be difficult to stop.
Giroud set Arsenal on its way to an eighth straight home win by smashing in a left-foot shot off the post in first-half injury time. The France striker provided the square ball that Ramsey steered home in the 81st before Flamini added a third in the 84th.
West Ham is winless in seven league games as it drifts toward mid-table after challenging for the top four in the first half of the season.
Villa hadn't scored an away goal in more than 10 hours before Benteke's 16th-minute goal against Sunderland. Agbonlahor scored in the 18th and 37th minutes before Benteke piled on the agony for the hosts with a fourth in scarcely believable scenes.
Villa has been revived by new manager Tim Sherwood and a second straight win in the league — after seven defeats in a row — pushed the team above Sunderland further clear of relegation.
Sunderland has won one of its last 11 league games at home.
QPR stayed in the relegation zone after another pitiful away performance, in which it conceded three goals in the first half to Wilfrid Zaha, James MacArthur and Joel Ward.
Phillips' late consolation was one of the goals of the season in the Premier League, a dripping strike from long range with flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
Brown Ideye scored West Brom's winner to move the team into mid-table and continue its resurgence under new manager Tony Pulis.
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