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Sunderland 0- 2 Arsenal: Defensive Howlers Hand Gunners The Win

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Sunderland battled hard against Arsenal but were undone by two defensive mistakes.

Michael Regan

An improved performance from Sunderland resulted in another defeat as two goals were handed on a plate to Arsenal.

Sunderland started the game brightly in the first couple of minutes with Buckley making runs down the left forcing the Gunners back, however normal service resumed after 5 mins as Arsenal started to control possession.

The first chance of the game came for Arsenal on 10 mins. A low cross from the right was spilled by Mannone straight into the penalty area but O’Shea was there to make the clearance.

Arsenal were having all the possession but they were being limited to long range efforts with Welbeck having a shot flash over and Arteta pulling his shot wide.

Sunderland were content to sit deep and hit Arsenal on the counter attack preventing Welbeck or Alexis getting in behind. The Black Cats first chance of the game came through a counter attack after Brown’s clearance found Johnson who ran down the wing, fed Larrson who slipped Van Aanholt through on the left only for him to be denied by a last ditch tackle from Mertesacker before getting his shot away.

After settling into the game Sunderland found another way of beating themselves. With 30 mins played and Sunderland mounting pressure after a series of set pieces Wes Brown fluffed his back pass to Mannone when a simpler pass to Van Aanholt was on, allowing Alexis to run through on goal finishing delightfully over Mannone.

It looked as if the wheels were coming off now as Arsenal upped the pressure with the Sunderland defence looking nervous and unable to clear anything. A shot from Cazorla whistled just past the post on 33 mins and Chambers was denied by an on rushing Mannone. Sunderland saw the first half out making sure they stayed in the game, but really should have been level.

Sunderland again started the second half well and were nearly level through Jack Rodwell. An attack down the right concluded with Larrson whipping a dangerous ball in for Rodwell whose header was saved low down by Szczesny.

Refereeing decisions have been going against Sunderland this season and it continued today on 60 mins when Flamini slid in two – footed uncontrollably on Adam Johnson which should have been a red card; however Kevin Friend failed to even award a free kick.  And his decisions continued to baffle two minutes later as he gave Lee Cattermole a yellow card for minimal contact on Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Black Cats were in the ascendency now and Seb Larrson unleashed a shot on 64 mins but it was straight at the Keeper.

The game turned into a scrappy affair with the introduction of the substitutions, but Sunderland continued to be the more dominant team, however they lacked a cutting edge up front to convert any chances.

Arsenal nearly killed the game on 80 mins after Monreal’s cross found Welbeck but his header went narrowly over. At the other end Szczesny came off his line to the edge of the box to head clear, leaving an open net but Van Aanholt’s long range effort went wide.

Sunderland had Arsenal camped on their own 18 yard box but just couldn't find a way through with Gomez and Van Aanholt looking dangerous setting up Cattermole for a shot but he pulled it wide.

Arsenal made it two when Mannone’s poor touch from Buckley’s back pass allowed Alexis to double his account and condemn Sunderland to another league defeat.

Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone, Vergini, van Aanholt, Brown, O'Shea (c), Cattermole, Larsson, Rodwell (Gomez 73’), Johnson (Altidore 73’), Buckley, Fletcher (Wickham 50’).

Subs: Pantilimon, Reveillere, Bridcutt, Mavrias, Gomez, Altidore, Wickham.

Goals: None

Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs (Bellerin 72’), Arteta (Ramsey 87’), Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Rosicky 90’), Cazorla, Alexis, Welbeck.

Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Ramsey, Campbell, Rosicky, Walcott, Podolski.

Goals: Alexis 30’, 90+2’