Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1

by James, Junior Black Cats reporter

Black Cats suffer first away defeat in seven at the hands of the Gunners.

Sunderland lost back to back Barclays Premier League games for the first time since December as Arsenal ended the Black Cats’ six-game unbeaten run on the road with a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

It was a bad start for the Wearsiders as they fell behind to an Olivier Giroud goal early on before the Frenchman added another shortly after the half hour mark.

Tomas Rosicky added a well worked third before the break.

Laurent Koscielny nodded in from close range early in the second half before Emanuele Giaccherini added an exquisite volley as a consolation goal for the 1,500 travelling Wearsiders.

Gus Poyet made one enforced change to the side that lost their last Premier League outing two weeks ago at home to Hull City with the suspended Wes Brown being replaced by January signing Santiago Vergini, who was to make his first start in Red and White.

If Arsenal were tired after their midweek exploits in the Champions League, Sunderland were not able to capitalize upon this with the Gunners seeing more of the ball in the opening stages.

This backfired on the Lads when the ball was worked through the visitors’ defence and to the unmarked Giroud, who slotted home neatly from around 15 yards.

This goal seemed to breath a bit of life into Sunderland, who could have so easily got the equaliser only minutes later when Ki’s break up the pitch concluded in a Marcos Alonso cross being deflected by Koscielny, almost taking the ball past Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal, but the ‘keeper was alive and grabbed a hold of it.

The North Londoners returned with a chance of their own as Lukas Podolski’s 25 yard pile-driver was palmed away well by ex-Gunner Vito Mannone, before Tomas Rosicky’s swirling effort was claimed by the Sunderland stopper.

If there were any hopes of a Sunderland revival, they were dashed on 31 minutes when a blind back pass on the right by Vergini resulted in Giroud intercepting and putting the ball past Mannone for his second of the day.

Eleven minutes later, Rosicky added a third, after some neat one-twos climaxed in Giroud putting the Czech international one-on-one with Mannone before the Czech midfielder deliciously chipped over the Italian in the Sunderland goal, giving Sunderland a mountain to climb at half-time.

Giaccherini and Seb Larsson replaced Jozy Altidore and Adam Johnson respectively at half time as Poyet looked to get at least a goal in the game.

Twelve minutes into the second half, it was 4-0 as centre back Koscielny managed to evade Phil Bardsley to head into the corner from the right beyond the helpless Mannone.

Half time substitute Seb Larsson’s ball across the box was met by Ki, but Szczesny was up the challenge and saved the South Korean’s short range shot.

Ignacio Scocco then made his league debut when he replaced midfielder Ki.

Serge Gnabry had a good chance to make it five when Jack Wilshere slipped the German in. However, the youngster lost his footing and Mannone made the save.

Nine minutes from time, the travelling support finally got what they came for, a Sunderland goal - Larsson’s free kick from the right was punched clear by Szczesny but fell to Giaccherini, who, after steadying himself, unleashed a 30-yard half volley that would have been worthy to win any match.

The score line, however, remained 4-1 to the hosts.

This defeat was not ideal preparation for Wembley next week, where Sunderland face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final, hoping to bring the trophy back to Wearside for the first time.