Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1: Cats pay the price for missed chances

Fabio Borini
Fabio Borini
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It's a measure of the vastly-improved confidence in Sunderland's ranks that the Black Cats were left cursing an empty-handed trip to Arsenal.

On a better day, Sunderland could easily have made it three back-to-back wins - or certainly come away with a point - yet tasted a 3-1 defeat against the Gunners after Olivier Giroud made amends for his earlier own goal.

At times, Sunderland were as comfortable as they have ever been at the Emirates, with Fabio Borini, Steven Fletcher, Duncan Watmore and with a minute to go, Patrick van Aanholt, spurning glorious opportunities to add to the Black Cats' tally.

But it's a costly business to be wasteful against one of the Premier League's heavyweights and a lacklustre Arsenal made Sunderland pay with a couple of moments of quality, which were converted by Joel Campbell and Giroud.

Aaron Ramsey then made certain of the points in stoppage time.

The first of Sunderland's clear-cut chances came as early as the fourth minute when Watmore collected Fletcher's lay-off and played a through-ball for Borini, which left him with a clear run on goal.

But bearing down on the Arsenal box from the right-hand side of the area, Borini could only muster a tame shot which was routine for Petr Cech low to his right.

Cech was forced to make another save in the 10th minute when Watmore's cross wasn't dealt with by the Arsenal defence and Mathieu Flamini knocked the ball back towards his own goal, before the keeper palmed it away at full-stretch.

But after Sunderland had been so comfortable for the opening half-hour, it was Arsenal who went ahead 12 minutes before the interval when Mesut Ozil played a lovely pass in behind for DeAndre Yedlin.

Campbell got in behind the on-loan Spurs man, before slotting it coolly under Costel Pantilimon.

However, Sunderland pulled level on the stroke of half-time thanks to a splash of fortune.

Yann M'Vila's low inswinging free-kick from the left was allowed to run by Ola Toivonen, before Giroud turned it beyond Cech at the near post.

Arsenal almost regained the instantly when Borini lost the ball carelessly in the right-back spot after being robbed by Nacho Monreal, but the left-back's pull-back was sent just wide of the near post by Aaron Ramsey.

Fletcher drew a save out of Cech in the 57th minute when the Scot collected Watmore's square pass and let fly with a low shot from 25 yards which the Arsenal keeper turned around the post.

From the resulting corner, Cech produced an even better save after Ola Toivonen's flick-on was met by Fletcher at the far post.

Fletcher's effort from six yards out looked a certain goal, yet Cech managed to readjust to keep it out on the line.

But just after the hour mark, Arsenal regained the lead when Giroud found the net at the right end - connecting with a diving header from Ramsey's inswinging cross.

Watmore had a half-chance to level when he was picked out by M'Vila's raking pass over the top, but the ball just got ahead of the 21-year-old whose shot at Cech was tame.

But the best opportunity to level was spurned with a minute to go when substitute Jack Rodwell played a lovely reverse pass which completely wrong-footed the Arsenal defence.

Van Aanholt had just Cech to beat, but smashed a right-footed shot over the bar to leave Sam Allardyce with his head in his hands.

Arsenal then sealed the points in stoppage time when Hector Bellerin's shot was blocked by van Aanholt into the path of Ramsey, who turned it in from point-blank range.

Arsenal: Cech, Mertesacker, Koscileny, Monreal, Bellerin, Ozil, Giroud (Chambers 80), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 64), Flamini, Ramsey, Campbell (Gibbs 76). Subs not used: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Iwobi. Booked: Koscielny (45)

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Yedlin, Coates, O'Shea, Kaboul, van Aanholt, M'Vila, Toivonen (Rodwell 61), Watmore, Borini (Johnson 67), Fletcher (Lens 73). Subs not used: Mannone, Gomez, Jones, Graham. Booked: Yedlin (80)

Attendance: 59,937