Soccer / English Premier League |

Arsenal Blanks Southampton to Stay on Top

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Olivier Giroud took advantage of a huge goalkeeping blunder to score a brace as Arsenal moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over surprise package Southampton Saturday.

The Gunners bounced back from their defeat against Manchester United and took advantage of second-place Liverpool’s 3-3 draw at Everton to increase their lead.

Arsene Wenger’s team took a cautious start but gradually stamped its authority on the match and opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc gifted a bizarre goal, losing the ball to Giroud in his box.

The former Montpellier striker then doubled the Gunners’ lead from the penalty spot, sending Boruc the wrong way after Per Mertesacker was had his jersey pulled in the box.

Fellow London club Fulham continued to struggle Saturday, as substitute Jonjo Shelvey scored a late winner to give Swansea a 2-1 victory. The loss leaves Fulham mired in the relegation zone.

Shelvey slotted a shot past Maarten Stekelenburg in the 80th minute to give Swansea its first league win in six games and heap further pressure on Fulham manager Martin Jol.

The visitors had taken the lead through an own goal by Aaron Hughes in the 56th, but Fulham captain Scott Parker equalized eight minutes later by curling in his first goal for the club.

Swansea has 15 points from 12 games while Fulham is stuck on 10 and in 18th place.

Up in Newcastle, French strikers Loic Remy and Yoan Gouffran scored first-half goals as the hosts defeated Norwich 2-1 Saturday to claim a third consecutive Premier League win.

The Magpies, who have lost only one of their last five league games, built on their successive wins over Chelsea and Tottenham to hand Norwich a seventh loss of the season and leave the Canaries flirting with the relegation zone.

Remy, who scored his eighth goal in his last eight matches, opened the scoring after just two minutes with a header from Yohan Cabaye’s cross and Gouffran doubled his team’s lead from close range in the 38th minute.
Leroy Fer’s goal 10 minutes from time gave Norwich some hope, but Newcastle hung on.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace reacted to the hiring of Tony Pulis as manager hours before kickoff by beating Hull 1-0, earning only a second win of the Premier League campaign to lift the team off the bottom of the standings.

Palace overcame the 78th-minute sending-off of Yannick Bolasie to score the only goal three minutes later, with Barry Bannan netting from close range following Cameron Jerome’s cross.

Caretaker manager Keith Millen hands over to Pulis with Palace now above Sunderland on goal difference, and the new coach’s record of never having been relegated will give the Londoners renewed hope of staying up.

Hull slumped to a first home loss of the season and barely threatened Palace’s goal until after Bolasie was harshly given a straight red for fouling Jake Livermore.

Arsenal's Giroud scores a penalty against SouthamptonCredit: Reuters