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Wenger Sees Confidence Growing as Van Persie’s Two Goals Seal Arsenal Win

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he can see his team growing in confidence after a 2-1 victory against Sunderland which lifts the Gunners into the top half of soccer’s Premier League.

Robin van Persie struck in each half at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium yesterday, opening the scoring with the club’s fastest- ever Premier League goal, then earning the win with a late freekick.

“If we can put another two or three results together it will help confidence because you can feel that the attitude and spirit of the team is great,” Wenger said at the post-match news conference. “The motivation is there and the quality too so we should eventually get there.”

Arsenal’s third league win in eight matches this season moves Wenger’s team into 10th spot. Sunderland is 17th in the 20-team standings. Fourth-place Newcastle rallied twice to draw 2-2 against Tottenham, while West Bromwich Albion beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 in yesterday’s other games.

Arsenal made the breakthrough after only 29 seconds against the Black Cats. Gervinho collected a pass from Tomas Rosicky and found Van Persie, who fired a low shot into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

The home team continued to press and looked likely to increase its lead, with Van Persie coming close on 13 minutes. Van Persie spun past his defender before clipping the ball over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, but it struck the post and bounced across the goal before being cleared.

The Dutchman then struck a 20-yard shot just wide two minutes later.

Sunderland improved through the first half and tied the game on 31 minutes when it was awarded a freekick. Sebastian Larsson, who failed to establish himself at Arsenal early in his career, curled an effort over the wall and into the corner of the net.

Arsenal secured the win from a freekick of its own on 82 minutes, Van Persie stepping up to fire the ball past Mignolet. Wenger praised the Dutchman’s prowess from set pieces, but said that Larsson is “maybe the best freekick taker in the league.”

“We started well for the first 25 minutes and then when they equalized you could see that we were wobbling a bit,” Wenger said. “At halftime the team regrouped and then the second half was all us.”

Newcastle maintained its unbeaten start in the league after substitute Shola Ameobi scored in the 86th minute at St. James’s Park.

The home team trailed at halftime as Rafael van der Vaart put Spurs ahead with a penalty kick, awarded for a trip on Emmanuel Adebayor by Steven Taylor.

Demba Ba tied the game three minutes after the interval before Tottenham reestablished its lead midway through the half from a strike by Jermain Defoe. Ameobi, who was 30 on Oct. 12, fired a low shot across goalkeeper Brad Friedel into the net for his first goal of the season.

“I think it was a penalty, I made contact and I’m disappointed with that,” Taylor told Sky Sports. “But credit to the lads, we came back and it was fully deserved.”

At the Hawthorns, West Brom got its first home league win of the season on goals from Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie.

Two days ago, Manchester City took a two-point lead atop the standings following a 4-1 win against Aston Villa, while second-place Manchester United tied 1-1 at Liverpool.

Chelsea beat Everton 3-1, Bolton won 3-1 at Wigan, Stoke defeated Fulham 2-0, Norwich beat Swansea 3-1, while Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn drew 1-1.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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