Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi started but was substituted in the second half after a subdued performance as
Arsenal romped to a 4-1 away win against bottom of the table Sunderland on Saturday at the Stadium of Light.
Olivier Giroud’s first goals of the season handed Arsenal victory and Sunderland a share of an unwanted Premier
The France forward struck twice within five minutes of being introduced as a 69th-minute substitute to kill off
hopes of a Black Cats’ fightback after Jermain Defoe’s penalty had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s first-half opener.
Sanchez helped himself to a second – the last three goals came inside a chaotic seven-minute period – to leave
Sunderland with only two points from their first 10 league games, matching Manchester City’s low in 1995-96.
The Gunners, who have now gone 14 games unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the campaign, probably
should have had the game won by half-time, but beleaguered boss David Moyes was given hope by Defoe’s spot-kick,
only for the visitors to respond in brutal fashion.
Writing in his programme notes, Moyes had admitted “It isn’t easy to be a Sunderland supporter at the moment…” and
promised tireless effort in a bid to alter that situation, but the locals among a crowd of 44,322 found the going
particularly difficult on this occasion.
The Black Cats showed commendable spirit in the early stages as they set about knocking the Gunners out of their
Sadly for them, they lacked both the defensive resilience and the raw pace to compete when Arsene Wenger’s men
flexed their muscles, and it was a source of relief that they made it back into the home dressing room at the break
trailing by just one goal.
Mesut Ozil had already shot tamely at goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after Sanchez’s 13th-minute pass had carved a
highway through the home defence, and Francis Coquelin, perhaps astonished by the space he was afforded, allowed
himself to be reeled in by Lamine Kone having been played in seconds later.
However, Sanchez put Arsenal ahead with 19 minutes gone when he got ahead of a statuesque Kone to head home Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross, and Sunderland deflated almost immediately.
Ozil should have made it 2-0 seven minutes before half-time after running on to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ball over the
top, but did not get enough on his lobbed attempt to let the advancing Pickford and his team-mates off the hook.
Sunderland returned in determined mood, but Oxlade-Chamberlain squandered another golden opportunity after being
played in behind a square defence once again and Sanchez was astonished not to be awarded a 62nd-minute penalty
after going down under Kone’s challenge.
Referee Martin Atkinson, however, did point to the spot at the other end two minutes later after Duncan Watmore had
skipped away from defender Shkodran Mustafi and been tripped by keeper Petr Cech, and Defoe obliged from 12 yards to
But the respite was fleeting as Giroud steered home Kieran Gibbs’ 71st-minute cross to restore his side’s lead and
then headed home Ozil’s cross five minutes later.
Sanchez nimbly converted from close range after Gibbs’ shot had come back off the post to complete a miserable
afternoon for Sunderland.