Arsenal 2 Sunderland 1: Larsson wonderstrike not enough as van Persie double beats Black Cats

Sunderland's Kieran Richardson (right) and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny battle for the ball.
Sunderland's Kieran Richardson (right) and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny battle for the ball.
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ROBIN van Persie struck a second-half winner for Arsenal after Seb Larsson threatened to earn Sunderland a gritty draw at the Emirates Stadium.

The Holland striker, who used his programme notes to declare his full commitment to Arsenal, put the hosts ahead after just 29 seconds but the sides went in level at half-time thanks to an excellent free-kick from former Gunner Larsson.

Lee Cattermole and Jack Colback both missed chances to put the visitors ahead as Arsenal wobbled following the equaliser.

The game appeared destined for a draw as Arsenal squandered good second-half chances, but Van Persie saved the Londoners' blushes with a wonderful curling free-kick nine minutes from time.

The win gave Arsenal the perfect tonic after their north London derby defeat two weeks ago.

Under-pressure Black Cats boss Steve Bruce, meanwhile, will rue his side's failure to convert a number of first-half opportunities and they now sit outside the drop zone only on goal difference.

* Full match report and exclusive reaction in Monday’s Sunderland Echo.