Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal: Ramsey double puts Gunners top (video)

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SUNDERLAND — Arsenal eventually eased to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland after dominating for large spells of the game at the Stadium of Light.

The Gunners took an early lead through Olivier Giroud but squandered several other chances to extend their advantage. They were made to pay for that as Sunderland equalized just after half time when Craig Gardner scored a penalty. But soon after Ramsey scored twice in quick succession to seal Arsenal’s win.

A lively home crowd made the game a spirited affair as Arsenal began to get their passing game going, with the Black Cats looking to hit Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher early.

However it was the away team who took the lead in the 10th minute as Mesut Ozil showed everyone why Arsenal spent $60million to sign him from Real Madrid. The German international beautifully teed up Giroud to sweep home from close range and put Arsenal 1-0 up.

Sunderland almost equalized straight away but Modibo Diakite’s 12th minute header cannoned off the bar.

Arsenal came close to adding a second goal twice, as Theo Walcott got in behind Jack Colback but fired his effort straight at Kieren Westwood on both occasions.

And Walcott could have had at least a hat trick as just before the half Wilshere chipped in a perfect cross to the back post but the England winger headed wide. Then shortly after Walcott was thwarted again by Westwood as the ball broke to him in the box.

Sunderland tried to rally as half time approached but the Gunners looked comfortable going in 1-0 up at half time.

source: Getty Images
Di Canio is sent away from the dugouts following a spat with the referee.

After the break the home side looked much better and Adam Johnson picked up a loose ball in the box and was taken down by Laurent Koscielny as Sunderland won a penalty. Gardner smashed the spot kick home to make it 1-1 after coming on barely minutes before at half time for James Vaughan.

Sunderland were buoyed by the goal and really took the game to Arsenal with Steven Fletcher scoring, but was ruled offside in the 58th minute and then Gardner’s curling free kick somehow missed everyone before bouncing off the inside of the post and away to safety.

But then Arsenal came roaring back into the game in swashbuckling fashion in the 67th minute when Carl Jenkinson broke down the right and pulled back a ball to Aaron Ramsey, who hit home a spectacular volley on the turn.

Shortly after it looked as if U.S. international Altidore had grabbed another equalizer for Sunderland as he broke free of Bacary Sagna’s challenge before slotting home and the USMNT forward ran off celebrating. However referee Atkinson had pulled the play back for a foul by Sagna on Altidore, even though the Sunderland man clearly had an advantage. The Stadium of Light was incensed with the decision.

Then in the 75th minute Arsenal sealed the win as a lovely flowing move saw Ramsey play a one-two with Giroud and Ozil before slotting the ball home to make it 3-1. The final few minutes  played out with the home side trying to get back into the game but Arsenal managed to hold on to a hard-fought 3-1 win away from home. Their seventh league away win in a row.

Victory sees the Gunners top the league momentarily while Sunderland are still searching for their first win this season, and sit bottom.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, Roberge, Diakite, Vaughan (Gardner 46), Mavrias (Borini 71), Ki, Johnson (c), Fletcher (Wickham 77), Altidore. Subs not used: Mannone, Brown, Larsson, Cuellar.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Sagna, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil (Vermaelen 80), Walcott (Monreal 89), Giroud (Akpom 90). Subs not used: Fabianski, Frimpong, Ryo, Gnabry,

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

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Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

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Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.