Arsene Wenger lauds Giroud and Ramsey after Arsenal win

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SUNDERLAND — Following Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger heaped more praise on two of the Gunners most-improved players.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring and put in a tremendous display of forward play, while Aaron Ramsey scored twice from midfield in the second half to grab the win for Arsenal and momentarily send them top of the Premier League.

“I am extremely happy with Giroud today,” Wenger said. “Not only because he scored but his overall link play is improving from game to game. I think he is becoming a very important player for us.”

With five goals in his first six games across all competitions, the 26-year-old French international striker is turning into the player everyone hoped he would be when Wenger signed him from Montpelier in the summer of 2012.

(MORE: Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal: Ramsey double sends Arsenal top)

And Welsh international Aaron Ramsey is looking like a new signing, as he also scored his fifth goal in six games as Arsenal are top of the Premier League with three wins from four. source: Getty Images

The 22-year-old midfielder had scored five goals in his previous two seasons for the Gunners… he already has five before mid-September.

His work alongside Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil in the engine room saw the Gunners take Sunderland by storm in the first half, even though the Black Cats fought back after the break. But then Ramsey struck with a superb volley in the 67th minute to put them back in front before slotting in Arsenal’s third in the 76th minute to seal the deal.

Meanwhile Wenger believes Ramsey is flourishing for many reasons.

“Ramsey is definitely [most improved player] compared to one year ago he is fantastic,” Wenger said. “He has intelligence, a desire to improve and listen. He has a very learning attitude and as well he has a fantastic engine.”

However there was one negative for Wenger as in-form star striker Giroud hobbled off with an injury late.

Wenger conceded that their main man is now Giroud.

“That is my worry today after the game,” Wenger said. “We are very thin at the moment so I hope it’s not serious. He is the player at the moment for us.”

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.