Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1: Six things we learned as the Black Cats go down fighting at the Emirates

Sunderland's miserable run in the league at Arsenal continues...

Sunderland's miserable run in the league at Arsenal continues...

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Football can be a funny old game, can't it?

On paper a 3-1 loss away at Arsenal looks like a routine Premier League defeat.

Yann M'Vila wins the ball for Sunderland at the Emirates

Yann M'Vila wins the ball for Sunderland at the Emirates

Yet, Sam Allardyce believed it was side's best performance since he took charge following Dick Advocaat's resignation.

And few could disagree.

But what did we learn from the spirited defeat at the Emirates?

Fabio Borini squandered his chance:

Having patiently waited for his chance, Borini was in from the start against Arsenal. His first start since West Brom away.

And within four minutes, Duncan Watmore had played him in.

Clean through, Borini mustered a weak effort, straight at Petr Cech.

A really poor effort and Sunderland were made to pay for the miss.

He then lost possession far too easily on the edge of the his own penalty area just after the equaliser, almost gifting Arsenal the lead again.

A day to forget.

Sunderland's survival hopes don't rest on games against the top teams:

The match at the Emirates was very much a 'free hit' for Sunderland after back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

Those victories had lifted the Black Cats out of the drop zone for the first time this season.

A daunting trip to the Emirates, even with their injury concerns, was always going to be a tough ask.

Sunderland started well and it was a comfortable first half at the Emirates.

In the end, Arsenal's quality shone through.

Sunderland's survival hopes don't hinge on games against the likes of Arsenal away though. Points against those teams are a bonus.

Duncan Watmore a highlight in his second Premier League start:

The England Under-21 international didn't enjoy the greatest of full Premier League debuts, against Southampton at the Stadium of Light.

But he grabbed his second start with both hands at the Emirates.

Playing wide left as Sunderland lined up in a 5-4-1 formation, he impressed with his pace, energy and quick-feet.

Pushing Sunderland up the field with his pace, his teammates looked to him when they countered. Missed a good chance second half but positive aside from that.

'Tinker Sam' has opposition manager's guessing:

With the blow that Lee Cattermole was going to be missing again, Allardyce was forced to change his team.

The Black Cats boss reverted to a 5-4-1 formation, with the wing-backs tucked in a little deeper.

Ola Toivonen came in for Cattermole, with Watmore and Borini also recalled.

And Sunderland impressed from the off against a lacklustre Arsenal, creating the better openings in first 45 minutes.

A defeat, ultimately, but another improved performance.

This season Sunderland have played 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-5-1.

The Black Cats are nothing, if not versatile.

Mesut Ozil is a joy to watch:

One thing you expect when you watch Arsenal in action is a Mesut Ozil assist.

And the German didn't disappoint at the Emirates.

His defence-splitting pass put Joel Campbell in for the equaliser.

The pass made it, Ozil's 12th Premier League assist of the season.

Some record before December is out.

Incredibly, Ozil has had a hand in 14 goals in his last 13 Premier League appearances, which includes two goals and 12 assists.

And this was one of his quieter games!

32 years and counting...

Makes for grim reading, Sunderland's history at Arsenal in league fixtures.

The Black Cats haven’t won a league game at Arsenal since November 1983, when Ian Atkins scored the winner in a 2-1 victory, Colin West scoring the other goal.

In the 16 subsequent visits, Sunderland have managed five draws and 11 losses.

Sunderland started positively but in the end, too many missed chances meant that streak of failing to take all three points back to the North East continues.

Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, has now lost eight successive Premier League games against the Gunners and has not beaten Arsenal in the competition since May 2010.

Grim reading indeed!