Robin Van Persie celebrates his opening goal for Arsenal at the Emirates in the 2-1 win over Sunderland.

Story highlights

Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-1 at Emirates to move into top half of EPL

Two superb goals from Robin van Persie give Arsenal three points

Tottenham held 2-2 at Newcastle in top six clash at St Jamess Park

Juventus still top Italy Serie A after goalless draw against Chievo

CNN  — 

Robin van Persie scored early and late in the game to secure a 2-1 victory for his struggling Arsenal team over Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium Sunday.

The Dutch international’s opener after just 31 seconds was the quickest in their English Premier League history but it needed his curling free kick with 10 minutes to go to grab the three points.

Sunderland, struggling just above the relegation zone, weathered the early storm before equalizing with a virtuoso free kick from former Gunner Sebastian Larsson in the 31st minute.

But Arsenal were the better side in the first half and got their reward when top scorer Van Persie struck again.

Manager Arsene Wenger used his program notes to dispel rumors that Van Persie would be leaving in the next transfer window and the player himself told Sky Sports after the match that he was “committed” to Arsenal.

The victory lifts them into top half of the table for the first time this season, but they still trail leaders Manchester City by 12 points.

Tottenham beat Arsenal in the north London derby game before the international break and were held later Sunday 2-2 at Newcastle.

Tottenham, bidding for their fifth straight league win, twice led through a Rafael van der Vaart penalty just before halftime and then substitute Jermain Defoe’s clinical strike.

But Demba Ba and substitute Shola Ameobi twice pulled them back and it was Newcastle, unbeaten this season, who were pressing at the end.

They stay in fourth place, with Tottenham in sixth having played a game less.

In the other game played Sunday, West Bromwich Albion pulled clear of the relegation zone with a 2-0 Black Country derby win over Wolves, who have lost five straight.

There was a goal drought in Italy’s Serie A as only one of 12 teams in action in the afternoon fixtures Sunday managed to score .

Juventus were held 0-0 at Chievo and Udinese, who finished with 10 men, failed to score at Atalanta.

The results left Juve ahead of Udinese at the top on goals scored.

The only positive result came at Novara where visitors Bologna won 2-0 to move off the bottom.

In German Bundesliga action, struggling Hamburg scored only the second win of their campaign with a 2-1 victory at Freiburg.

Hamburg stay bottom, just behind FC Augsburg, but secured three points through goals from Korean Heung Min Son and Ivo Ilicevic with a penalty.

Papiss Cisse equalized for the home side but missed a late penalty for a second leveler.