Looking to banish memories of their midweek defeat to Bayern Munich, Arsenal had the easiest of starts, going into the lead after just five minutes. Jack Wilshere received a pass from Tomas Rosicky just inside the box, then slid the ball to Olivier Giroud, who found the corner of the net.
With three minutes of the half left, Rosicky made it three, dinking the ball over Mannone to finish a precise four-man passing move.
In the second half, Sunderland started the brightest and Fabio Borini brought a smart save from Wojciech Szczesny from a tight angle. Sunderland then dominated until 57 minutes in, Laurent Koscielny was found unmarked by a Santi Cazorla corner, and he headed past a static Mannone.
Emanuele Giaccherini scored a great goal from the edge of the box, but with nine minutes left it was nothing more than a consolation.
PRE-MATCH: Mesut Ozil is dropped from the squad after a penalty miss against Bayern in the Champions League.
5’ - GIROUD SCORES: Wilshere, under pressure from four Sunderland defenders crowded around him, finds the space to lay the ball off to the right for Giroud who finishes low into the corner.
31’ - GIROUD SECOND: Phil Bardsley and Vergini swap passes on the right wing, and Vergini lazily slides the ball back towards the ‘keeper. Giroud is alert to the ball and intercepts, needing just one touch to nutmeg Mannone.
42’ - ROSICKY GOAL: Wilshere passes to Rosicky, who then finds Santi Cazorla. Cazorla returns the ball to Rosicky, who plays a one-two with Giroud on the edge of the box, finishing the move with a neat chip over Mannone.
57’ - KOSCIENLY HEADER: Cazorla curls in a corner on the right, and Koscielny has an easy header from close range to put Arsenal four up.
76’ - GNABRY CHANCE: Wilshere slips in Serge Gnabry on the inside right, but he slips as he shoots, and Mannone saves.
78’ - LARSSON FREE-KICK: After Carl Jenkinson concedes a free-kick on the edge of the box, Larsson’s attempt is just a yard wide of the post.
81’ - GIACCHERINI GOAL: Bringing down a Szczesny punch with one touch, his low shot pulls a goal back for Sunderland.
Arsenal have lost just one of their last 21 Premier League games against Sunderland (W13 D7 L1).
Sunderland have not won away at Arsenal in the league since November 1983, losing 11 of the 15 visits since.
This was Sunderland’s first Premier League away defeat in seven matches.
The Gunners have lost just one of their last 18 Premier League games in the month of February (W14 D3 L1).
Did Sunderland’s executives watch Brighton play under Poyet? They played enjoyable football under Gus Poyet, but they didn’t display the fight that is a requirement to survive a relegation battle. It’s true that Sunderland are able to pass the ball better than they could under Paolo Di Canio, but they are still no better at concentrating or defending.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal): Olivier Giroud deserves credit for his two goals, and Jack Wilshere for his energy and insistent passing throughout, but Rosicky managed to combine both of these skills to be instrumental in Arsenal’s victory.
Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Sagna 7, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 7, Monreal 6, Arteta 6, Rosicky 8, Wilshere 8, Cazorla 6, Podolski 6, Giroud 8. Subs: Jenkinson 6, Flamini 6, Gnabry 6.
Sunderland: Mannone 6, Bardsley 6, Ki 4, Johnson 5, Colback 5, O'Shea 5, Altidore 4, Bridcutt 4, Vergini 4, Alonso 4, Borini 5. Subs: Larsson 6, Giaccherini 6, Scocco 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET