Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1
(Giroud 5, 31, Rosicky 42, Koscielny 57, Giaccherini 81)

Arsenal routed Sunderland to provide the perfect antidote to any lingering Champions League hangover after their midweek loss to Bayern Munich. Olivier Giroud returned to the starting line up and returned onto the scoresheet with two quality goals which provided the solid foundations for this victory. Tomas Rosicky chipped former team mate Vito Manone to add a third, the end product after a well worked Gunners’ move to round off a perfect opening half for Arsene Wenger’s men. Laurent Koscileny increased their lead, heading in eleven minutes after the restart as the home side looked comfortable for another home win. Emanuele Giaccherini struck a 20 yard wonder goal for a consolation to the Carling Cup finalists, who although were able to gather latent momentum, were nevertheless well and truly beaten at the Emirates stadium.

Arsenal made four changes to their midweek starting eleven against Bayern with Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal and Giroud starting with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathieu Flamini and Yaya Sanogo dropping to the bench. Mesut Özil hasn’t been at his best of late and Wenger was forced to omit his record signing owning to a thigh injury.

The opening possession statistics suggested Özil wasn’t being missed as Arsenal soon took the lead their expansive football deserved. A swift move saw Rosciky find the willing Jack Wilshere and his one touch to Giroud enabled the France striker to score the opening goal past Vito Mannone with and only five minutes played. After seeing the unveiling of his statue outside the Emirates stadium earlier, Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp gave his applause and nods of approval for a brand of football he would have been happy to be a part of.

Almost a mirror image of football to that in the Bayern game ensued but this time Arsenal were the team in total command. Rosicky burst in from the left and fed Cazorla who took a shot with his left foot when a switch onto his right would have better tested Sunderland and Mannone.

Just past the quarter hour mark saw Sunderland’s first foray into enemy territory. Marcos Alonso cross come shot had Wojciech Szczesny making a stretched save after fast break

It almost mattered not as Giroud’s neat flick pass to Podolski almost opens up the visitors defence. Podolski then tested Mannone with a shot which he palmed away for a corner, a move which saw quick pass and movement from Bacary Sagna and Wilshere.

Rosicky tested Mannone and from their next attack, the Gunners doubled their lead. Dithering at the back was to cost Sunderland. Under pressure, Santiago Vergini attempted to pass back to Manone, Giroud spotted the chance, and was quick to intercept the ball and squeeze it in from a sharp angle to score just past the half hour mark.

Calm and competitive, Arsenal were hungry for a third. They got their wish four minutes before the break and once again the goal was quality personified. Rosicky played and one two with Wilshere, taking the return, to then bring in Giroud and eventually take another pass before coolly lifting the ball over the advancing Mannone for a 3-0 half time score line.

Monreal was replaced by Carl Jenskinson after picking up a knock and knowing that they were unlikely to get the win, Sunderland relaxed in their approach and advanced, seeing Fabio Borini force Szczesny to make a save from an acute angle.

Circumstances meant that Wenger was forced to reorganise his defence, with Sagna now at left back and Jenkinson on the right. From Sagna’s cross Santiago Vergini almost sliced the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear the danger.

From the resultant corner, Giroud was getting all the defensive attention which allowed Koscielny to ghost in unmarked to power his header past Manonne for Arsenal’s fourth goal of the afternoon.

Flamini later replaced Koscielny and now Sagna was given his third different role of the afternoon at centre back, with Per Mertersacker having to remind his new defensive partner of his new positional duties.

Sensing the opportunity from Arsrnal’s reshuffle , Ki Sung-Yueng tested Szczesny from a cut back which Mertersacker then cleared.

Receiving a standing ovation, Rosicky was replaced by Gnabry , and when Wilshere robbed Jack Colback, he steamed forwards, finding Gnabry who was about to grab Arsenal’s fifth, that was until he saw his shot blocked by Liam Bridcutt.

Substitute Sebastian Larson saw his free kick go just past Szczesny’s upright, but when the Arsenal goalkeeper punched away from another Larson free kick, the clearance was controlled and rifled in by, Giaccherini to beat Szczesny for a consolation strike.

Wenger will have been pleased with his side’s performance, and especially after their Champions League exertions. Questions keep getting asked over Arsenal in the most open of title races. Wins like this one will do all the taking for Wenger’s side.