Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2
( Sanchez 30 , 90 )

Arsenal recorded their third Premiership win with a hard fought 2-0 victory at Sunderland. Alexis Sanchez shone in the stadium of light, taking both his chances after errors by the home side. After their midweek Champions League exertions against Anderlecht a subdued performance of sorts followed. Wes Brown’s poor control enabled Sanchez to pounce for the opener on the half hour mark. The Gunners enjoyed the majority of the possession, and against a side who were trounced 8-0 at Southampton last week end, should’ve been out of sight with chances falling to Danny Welbeck Santi Cazorla and Calum Chambers. In time added on, the home side tried to rally, but another Black Cats’ mix up, and the alert Sanchez scored to double his and the Gunners’ tally.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his 100th Arsenal appearance, and the welcome sight of Theo Walcott amongst the substitutes will please the Arsenal faithful with hope that the long injury absences can finally see further returns of the quality whose absence has seen Arsene Wenger’s side stutter of late.

Chambers returned after a one match suspension, with it now Jack Wilshere’s turn to miss out having amassed five bookings, and replaced by Mikel Arteta here. Wenger had predicted that Sunderland would defend in depth, and that is what actually transpired, but the tactic hardly represents anything new to opposition sides facing Arsenal.

Welbeck had seen a 20 yard shot curl just over the target and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s made Vito Mannone fumble but John O’Shea was on hand to tidy up for the nervous Sunderland side.

Per Mertrsacker timed his tackle on Patrick van Aanholt to perfection as the defender surged forward in a rare foray into the Gunners’ half.

With half an hour on the clock, Wes Brown looked to control a high ball and pass it back to former Gunner Mannone. Under pressure from Sanchez, Brown however horribly mistimed his back pass, scuffing it into the path of Sanchez, who raced away and struck the ball beyond the exposed Mannone.

Without Laurent Koscielny, Wenger was forced to play Nacho Monreal in central defence, although Chambers would have perhaps have presented a better option. Wojciech Szczesny will have been happy to keep only his second clean sheet of the season, and the Pole had to be alert to Jack Rodwell’s header, and a shot from Sebastian Larson.

Arteta and Mathiu Flamini knuckled down for their defensive duties and both received cautions as the home side threw caution to the wind, bringing on the marauding Jozy Altidore. Fifteen minutes before time, Kieran Gibbs suffered a knock and was replaced by Hector Bellerin, with Monreal now at left back.

Welbeck saw a header fizz over Manone’s bar, and when Szczesny came out and poorly headed out, van Aanholt was off target with an open goal in front of him.

With time running out, the home side became a more of an adventurous unit, but Szczesny’s goal was not to be breached.

Instead, another mix up in the Black Cats’ defence when Santiago Vergini ‘s back pass was taken by the nervous Mannone. The Sunderland ‘ keeper took a touch but then got his feet in a tangle, and the ball fell for Sanchez who instinctively chipped to complete an excellently finished strike from close in. That goal marked Arsenal’s 1500 since the beginning if the Premiership era, leaving Wenger to salute the Chile striker’s afternoon’s work.

” He took advantage of the mistakes they made but he’s also got a super quality. He’s quickly on your feet which is why he wins many balls that normal players don’t. He’s very quick in transition from offence to defence and wins the ball back very quickly. We can take advantage of that, ” said Wenger.

The effects of the Champions League trip to Belgium were a factor agreed Wenger, but the win was vital for his side noted the Gunners’ boss.

” We had a different game on Wednesday. Sunderland had a big defeat last week and before the game what we wanted was the three points and we got them. I believe we were quite in control as long as we could score the second goal. Of course you ( can ) concede a goal and drop points but we didn’t do it today. We were focused, maybe we missed some opportunities in the final third and the final ball. Overall we are very happy to get the three points. We won at Anderlecht, we won here today, two and a half days later and that.”

Arsenal will host Burnley next Saturday, and another three points with a convincing performance, and maybe a Walcott return will go a long way to rebuild the side’s belief that they can continue their push up the table.