Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Black Cats defeated in the capital.

Sunderland endured a difficult afternoon at the Emirates Stadium as they suffered an away defeat at the hands of Arsenal.

The Gunners opened up an early lead through Olivier Giroud, who then doubled the advantage just after the half-hour to put the home side in a commanding position.

Tomas Rosicky made it 3-0 late in the first half and Laurent Koscielny rounded off the hosts' scoring with a powerful header in the early stages of the second period.

Emanuele Giaccherini netted his fourth goal of the season late on for Sunderland, who improved after the break after Arsenal had dominated the opening 45 minutes.

Gus Poyet made just one change to the side which started the last league game, against Hull, with Santiago Vergini making his first Barclays Premier League start in place of the suspended Wes Brown.

But Arsenal started brightly and were ahead when Giroud popped up with his 15th goal of the season five minutes in.

Neat approach play afforded Jack Wilshere some room to manoeuvre and he managed to evade a challenge before finding the French striker, who swept the ball low past Vito Mannone.

Sunderland struggled to get going but pieced together a good move to threaten just after the quarter-hour, breaking quickly with the eventual cross from Marcos Alonso almost catching out Wojciech Szczesny as it looped towards goal.

Mannone – making his first return to the Emirates Stadium – was called into action soon afterwards as Arsenal pressed, doing well to turn Lukas Podolski's piledriver over the bar.

And the Sunderland keeper could do little about Arsenal's second goal just after the half-hour as Vergini's misplaced back-pass let in Giroud, who slipped the ball home.

The hosts were well on top and solidified their commanding lead with a third goal three minutes before the break.

Giroud's neat touch sent Rosicky through one-on-one with Mannone and the Czech did the rest, lifting the ball neatly beyond the goalkeeper and into the net.

Poyet shook things up at the break, replacing Adam Johnson and Jozy Altidore with Seb Larsson and Giaccherini and moving Fabio Borini up front.

The latter tested Szczesny four minutes into the second half, taking aim from a tight angle and forcing the Arsenal keeper to push his shot over the top.

But Arsenal hit back to make it 4-0 on 56 minutes, scoring from a corner after Vergini nearly sliced Bacary Sagna's cross into his own net.

Defender Koscielny met the resulting delivery, rising unmarked to head powerfully past a helpless Mannone.

Sub Serge Gnabry nearly made it five but was denied by a good save from Mannone after Szczesny had clawed away a close-range effort from Ki at the other end.

Meanwhile Larsson was inches away from scoring with a curling free-kick, but Sunderland did eventually break through to grab their consolation goal nine minutes from time.

A fine strike it was, too – Szczesny punching out another Larsson delivery to Giaccherini, who took aim from 22 yards and powered a beautiful drive through a crowd of players and into the far corner.

Arsenal previously hadn't conceded a goal at home in more than eight hours of football, with Giaccherini posting notice of his abilities in his first league appearance since New Year's Day.

The loss was Sunderland's first defeat on the road since late November, and the Black Cats will be hoping to get back on track at Wembley in their next away trip.

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Team Sheet

Szczesny
1
Mertesacker
4
Koscielny (Flamini)
6
Monreal (Jenkinson)
17
Sagna
3
Wilshere
10
Arteta
8
Rosicky (Gnabry)
7
Cazorla
19
Podolski
9
Giroud
12
Mannone
25
O'Shea
16
Vergini
27
Bardsley
2
Alonso
28
Ki (Scocco)
4
Bridcutt
26
Johnson (Larsson)
11
Colback
14
Borini
31
Altidore (Giaccherini)
17

Substitutes

Fabianski
21
Gnabry
44
Bendtner
23
Oxlade-Chamberlain
15
Sanogo
22
Flamini
20
Jenkinson
25
Celustka
12
Gardner
8
Ustari
32
Giaccherini Yellow
23
Scocco
30
Larsson
7
Cuéllar
24