There was a feel-good factor on Wearside this week with the news that Nissan had chosen the Washington factory to build their new model thereby extending the life of the plant for the foreseeable future. The feeling wasn't echoed from the Stadium of Light, where defeat against Arsenal would mean three defeats in a week and more unwanted stats regarding the start to the season.
David Moyes reacted positively at his press conference to questions regarding the form and morale of the players and although the injury list is still one of the worst in the league, Adnan Januzaj was back in training and featured on the bench. Jermain Defoe returned to lead the line with Billy Jones starting at right-back.
But it's top versus bottom and Aaron Ramsey was back on the bench for the Gunners who will be looking to put their perceived slip-up against Middlesbrough last week firmly behind them. In-form Theo Walcott was out with a slight injury, being replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla also dropped out as Wenger made seven changes from the side that beat Reading mid-week.
Sunderland started brightly as usual at home, with an early break from Khazri and Jones on the right, but the cross was straight to Cech. However, Arsenal dominated possession, were neat and tidy as expected and finding a lot of space with Bellerin on the right flank.
After 13 minutes a though ball split the Sunderland defence leaving Iwobi one on one with Pickford but Kone put in a tremendous tackle only for Jones to kick the ball against Pickford and bounce back out dangerously leaving O'Shea to clear. Nervous defending from Sunderland.
Sunderland were slow to close Arsenal down and on 18 mins Oxlade-Chamberlayne was given space on the right, accelerated past Watmore in the left back position and crossed for Sanchez to get in front of Kone to head Arsenal in front.
In response, Khazri won a free kick on the edge of the penalty box with van Aanholt given a chance to strike back, and his kick cleared the wall but sailed just wide of Cechs' post.
On 23 minutes positive play from Ndong and Jones in midfield found Khazri in space in the penalty are and crossed for Defoe to find the net, but it was an easy offside decision for the linesman to make.
There followed a period of Arsenal control where they kept possession and dictated the pace of the game. On 30 mins a Kone clearance to Khazri led the Sunderland player to foul Sanchez who hit the resulting fee kick just over the bar.
On 38 minutes a long ball from their own half put Ozil through on Pickford with a simple lob to beat the keeper who had raced off his line, but the Arsenal player looped the ball too close to the keeper who was able to paste it away.
A minute later, John O'Shea had to be replaced due to what looked like a calf strain, with Papys Djilobodji coming into the centre of defence alongside Kone.
Early pressure in the second half saw more Sunderland activity around the Arsenal penalty box without ever really threatening, but at least it improved the atmosphere in the ground temporarily. Arsenal continued to threaten, Sunderland continued to defend deeply and lacked an obvious outlet or plan to hit Arsenal on the break whenever they regained possession.
However, Sunderland were improving and just after Arsenal were denied a penalty for a Kone pullback on the lively Sanchez, a long through ball from N'Dong found Watmore breaking free. Cech came out, connected with Watmore and Martin Atkinson pointed at the spot. The only man in the ground we wanted to take the kick, duly stepped up and converted. As unlikely as it may have seemed, it was one all.
Both managers made substitutions on 68 minutes with Pienaar giving way for Januzaj and Iwobi for Giroud for Arsenal. One minute later Giroud scored with his first touch of the game. Gibbs overlapped on the left into unmarked space to cross into the box where Giroud wasn't closed down and finished with some style.
Two minutes later an Arsenal free kick from the edge of the area was cleared for a corner, and the resulting set piece found Giroud again with the flick-on over a stretching Jordan Pickford for three-one.
Worse was to come. The very next attack from Arsenal through a non-existent Sunderland defence saw Gibbs first hit the post then Sanchez tap in unchallenged from inside the six yard box.
Arsenal went top against a disorganised and dispirited Sunderland team who don't have a plan going forward and who are leaderless and weak at the back. A brief period of positive play in the second half did nothing to disguise the fact that they don't gel as a team, and are either playing a style of football that doesn't suit the quality of the players or that they lack the fire and passion to even make a contest out of the match.
For Sunderland fans, there were very few positives to take from this game, which left more questions asked than answered.
Sunderland: (4-2-3-1): Pickford, Jones, Kone, O'Shea (Djilobodji 41'), van Aanholt, Rodwell, Ndong (booking 32'), Watmore (Gooch 83'), Khazri (booking 30 mins), Pienaar (booking 40') (Januzaj 68), Defoe
Subs: Domingues, Djilobodji (booking 47') Manquilla, Love, Gooch, Januzaj, Anichebe
Goal. Defoe. Penalty 62'
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1): Cech (booking 63'), Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs (booking 79') Elneny, Coquelin (Maitland-Niles 88), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ramsey 75), Özil, Iwobi, Sánchez
Subs: Gabriel, Ramsey, Giroud, Ospina, Holding, Jenkinson, Maitland-Niles
Goals; Sanchez (19', 78'), Giroud (71', 76')
Referee: Martin Atkinson