Aaron Ramsey struck twice against his boyhood club to help Arsenal to a 3-0 win at Cardiff and extend the Gunners’ lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table to seven points.
The Wales international, who came through the Cardiff academy, headed home from a Mesut Ozil cross in the 29th minute before substitute Mathieu Flamini doubled the lead with five minutes remaining.
Fraizer Campbell had Cardiff’s best chances with headers either side of the break. The first was off target while the second drew an excellent save from Wojciech Szczesny.
Ramsey completed the scoring in stoppage time to make it 15 goals for club and country this season and was applauded by both sets of supporters.
Cardiff have enjoyed memorable results against Manchester City, Swansea and Manchester United at Cardiff City Stadium, but Arsenal navigated the potential pitfall with a minimum of fuss and put the pressure on nearest challengers Chelsea and Liverpool, who play today.
Meanwhile, 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’ side. Chelsea loan striker Lukaku’s late finish was his eighth league goal of the season.
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 but Diame strode forward undeterred and registered the opener.
After some testy exchanges between the two teams, and 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.
And, 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 on to 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.