Alexis Sanchez was the hero once again as he grabbed two goals at the Stadium of Light to sink Sunderland and grab all three points for Arsenal.
Arsenal once again failed to hit top gear as they struggled to break down a Sunderland team who were embarrassed a week ago at the hands of Southampton when they were beaten 8-0.
But, despite the lacklustre performance, Alexis Sanchez continued to shine as he dragged the Gunners through the game and took his goal tally for the season to 8.
Sunderland started the first half strongly, putting pressure on the Arsenal defence and playing at a high tempo.
Will Buckley beat Calum Chambers to lift a cross in to the Arsenal box during Sunderland’s good opening spell, but Steven Fletcher couldn’t get high enough to direct the ball goal wards.
The game levelled out following Sunderland’s promising start and neither team could get a real hold on the game. Alexis Sanchez once again looked the brightest player on the pitch as he saw his shot dragged wide in the 8th minute.
Despite their strong start, Sunderland were almost the cause of their own downfall ten minutes in, when ex-Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone fumbled Chambers’ shot.
Danny Welbeck couldn’t quite reach the loose ball and the black cats’ defence managed to clear their lines, much to the relief of Mannone.
Arsenal continued to get a foothold in the game and enjoyed more of the possession, but Sunderland’s back line continued to cut out any chances that Arsenal attempted to create.
It took until the 30th minute for Arsenal to finally break down the Sunderland defence and take a 1-0 lead, though it was Wes Brown who handed the opportunity to Alexis.
Brown miskicked his pass intended for Vito Mannone and Alexis Sanchez jumped at the chance to pick up the loose ball. With no defenders between him and the goal, he charged towards Mannone and lifted a delicate chip over the keeper. 1-0 Arsenal.
Arsenal were in the ascendancy and shortly after Alexis’s goal, Santi Cazorla took a shot on from 20 yards and watched it fly inches past the post with Mannone beaten.
The Gunners finished the half as much the stronger outfit, with the referees whistle coming just in time for Sunderland to head down the tunnel and regroup.
Sunderland started the second half much the same as the first and looked to put pressure on an Arsenal team that were struggling to find their rhythm.
It took until the 60th minute for the first real chance at goal, when a Sunderland clearance only reached as far as Alexis Sanchez, who’s shot from range was saved by Mannone.
Arsenal were beginning to yield under the pressure from Sunderland, and in the 73rd minute, their problems went from bad to worse as an injury to Kieran Gibbs forced him to make way for Hector Bellerin.
The game really opened up in the last ten minutes, with both teams breaking and creating chances.
Wojciech Szczesny was lucky not to be punished when he rushed off of his line to head the ball clear, only for it to land at the feet of Van Aanholt. Luckily for the Polish number one, Van Aanholt failed to find the target and the danger passed.
Sunderland looked good to snatch a point and with four minutes of injury time added on, they felt confident of doing so.
However, another blunder at the back cost them dear as Will Buckley rolled the ball back to Mannone, who failed to control it, allowing Alexis Sanchez to steal it from him and dink in his second goal of the game.
FT: Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal.