LONDON — Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was gifted two goals by Norwich as the Gunners earned a comfortable 4-0 victory in the Premier League at an empty Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Aubameyang was teed up by opposing players in either half, and also set up Granit Xhaka for the midfielder’s first goal of the campaign. There was even time for Cedric Soares, who was signed on loan from Southampton in January in a move made permanent last week, to mark his return from injury with a goal after making his debut off the bench.
Aubameyang ended a four-game run without scoring — his worst spell in five years — to reach 50 Premier League goals in 79 appearances. He is the fastest Arsenal player to reach a half-century.
The goals against last-place Norwich helped Arsenal move up to seventh place and ahead of north London rival Tottenham.
Arsenal had opened the scoring at Southampton last weekend following a goalkeeping error and Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul mimicked Alex McCarthy in north London, dawdling in possession and striking his clearance straight at Aubameyang, who slotted into an empty net in the 33rd minute.
The lead was doubled inside four minutes Kieran Tierney and Aubameyang combining before the latter fed Xhaka, who hit his first league goal in almost 14 months.
Pursuing a comeback in the second half, Norwich was incensed as referee Peter Bankes and the video assistant referee decided that Sead Kolasinac had not fouled Todd Cantwell inside the box.
Daniel Farke’s side had looked sharper for most of the second half, until the visitors again made a defensive mistake.
A Norwich throw-in inside its own half was sent toward substitute Josip Drmic, who opted to pass the ball back into the penalty area and straight to Aubameyang, who netted again in the 67th.
Soares then needed just four minutes to mark his long-awaited debut with a goal as he struck from the edge of the box in the 81st.
West Ham beats Chelsea to boost EPL survival bid
LONDON — Andriy Yarmolenko boosted West Ham’s hopes of staying in the Premier League by clinching a 3-2 victory over Champions League-chasing Chelsea on Wednesday.
The substitute completed a counterattack started by Declan Rice in the 89th minute to send West Ham three points clear of the relegation zone with six games remaining.
Until then, it had looked like being a night of frustration for David Moyes’ side, which was denied an opener after a lengthy VAR review. That was followed at the other end by conceding a penalty that was converted by Willian.
Although Tomas Soucek levelled in first-half stoppage time and Michail Antonio put the hosts in front at the start of the second half, Willian looked like recovering a point for Chelsea when he netted for a second time in the 72nd minute.
With the loss, fourth-place Chelsea is now only two points ahead of Manchester United and Wolverhampton in the pursuit of Champions League qualification.
It halted Chelsea’s momentum after beating deposed champion Manchester City last Thursday and then reaching the FA Cup semifinals by eliminating Leicester on Sunday.
They couldn’t blame a hostile atmosphere, though, as more than 60,000 seats were empty at the Olympic Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
But the wait for a VAR ruling seems even longer when the stadium falls completely silent — as it did in east London for more than three minutes after Soucek’s celebrations were curtailed.
Soucek scrambled the ball into the net after connecting with a corner from Bowen in the 34th minute. But the VAR ruled that Antonio, who was flat on the ground looking away from goal, was in an offside position and obstructing the view of Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The lengthy delay to assess the footage showed it wasn’t a clear decision to make, which only deepened the West Ham irritation.
But even players are told to maintain social distancing rather than confronting match officials.
Play resumed and soon there was a penalty ruling that went against West Ham and survived a VAR review when Christian Pulisic’s fell over after being caught by Diop. Willian converted from the penalty spot to compound West Ham’s frustrations.
But in stoppage time, Chelsea was beaten at another set piece as Soucek headed in from Bowen’s corner.
Chelsea was picked apart again six minutes into the second half, with a slick move down the left.
Declan Rice played a one-two with Pablo Fornals before passing to Antonio on the edge of the penalty area.
Antonio was nudged over by Antonio Rudiger but, rather than appealing for a penalty, he got back up on his feet. As the ball was recycled, it found its way to Bowen on the right and he squared for Antonio to slide it into the net.
Chelsea equalized when Willian’s free kick hit the inside of the post and beat the outstretched goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Pulisic thought Fabianski had been beaten again with a low shot but it crept wide of the post. The miss proved costly.
Rice seized possession on the edge of his own area and launched a high pass to Antonio on the halfway line. The ball was sent crossfield to Yarmolenko, who cut past Rudiger and struck into the bottom corner.
Newcastle extends Bournemouth’s winless streak to seven games
BOURNEMOUTH, England — Bournemouth stayed in the Premier League relegation zone after a 4-1 loss to Newcastle on Wednesday extended the team’s winless run to seven games.
First-half strikes from Dwight Gayle and Sean Longstaff were followed up by substitutes Miguel Almiron and Valentino Lazaro, handing Bournemouth a club-record 19th loss in a top-division season.
Dan Gosling claimed an added-time consolation — the hosts’ first goal since the league resumed following the three-month coronavirus pandemic break.
The south-coast side is looking unlikely to extend its Premier League stay to a sixth season. The next four fixtures are against Manchester United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City.
But Newcastle is 13th and seems sure of avoiding the drop.
Bournemouth fell behind inside five minutes. Jefferson Lerma was carelessly dispossessed on the edge of his own box by Longstaff and Gayle was sent clear by Allan Saint-Maximin to clinically find the bottom left corner.
The porous home defence was exposed for a second time with half an hour played.
Saint-Maximin was once again the provider, easily tricking his way past Adam Smith on the left and pulling the ball back for Longstaff to strike into the roof of the net from 10 yards (meters) for his first goal of the campaign.
Bournemouth failed to produce an attempt on target in the first half and was denied a flying start to the second by an offside flag.
Joshua King headed in after Dominic Solanke’s deflected strike came back off the left post but the effort was correctly ruled out.
Newcastle then further extended its lead in the 57th.
Almiron, who came on when Longstaff limped off injured shortly after scoring, collected Saint-Maximin’s pass and worked space on the edge of the box before stylishly finding the top left corner with a curling effort.
Lazaro converted in the 77th minute after being played through by Jonjo Shelvey.
Everton hangs on to beat Leicester
LIVERPOOL, England — Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored early and Everton hung on late to beat Leicester 2-1 in the Preimier League on Wednesday, loosening the visitors’ grip on a Champions League place.
Kelechi Iheanacho gave Leicester hope of halting a damaging recent slump with a bizarre goal at Goodison Park but Everton managed to stave off late pressure and see out the win.
Brendan Rodgers’ side once had a firm grip on third place but has yet to win in three games since the league resumed after the coronavirus outbreak, and is now just three points ahead of fifth-place Manchester United and Wolverhampton in sixth.
Everton took a firm grip on the game after just 10 minutes. Impressive teenager Anthony Gordon raced onto a header from Lucas Digne down the left and squared the ball for the onrushing Richarlison. The Brazilian made no mistake with a fierce shot from six yards that flew past Kasper Schmeichel.
Everton doubled its lead with just 16 minutes gone when VAR awarded a penalty. Digne swung the ball into the box and it appeared to strike the arm of Wilfred Ndidi as he got ahead of Michael Keane.
There was a lengthy stoppage as replays were studied numerous times but the decision finally went in Everton’s favour and Sigurdsson stroked home calmly from the spot.
Leciester got back in the game in the 51st when Iheanacho was rewarded for his persistence as he chased a ball into the box and Mason Holgate’s attempted clearance struck him on the head and went in.
With James Maddison also off the bench and pulling the strings, Leicester turned up the pressure.
The visitors were inches away from an equalizer when Jordan Pickford mishandled a cross in the drizzle and it rebounded off Michael Keane towards goal but the defender recovered to clear off the line.
Iheanacho then fired over before forcing a save with another chance and Ben Chilwell volleyed over.