Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1
( Campbell 25, Ramsey 72, Giroud 75, Lens 17 )

FA Cup holders Arsenal came from a goal behind to see off Sunderland at the Emirates stadium on Saturday in their FA Cup 3rd round tie, and now safely go through to the 4th round draw. Jermain Lens had given the visitors the lead after a defensive mix up involving Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny. Joel Campbell got the Gunners back on level terms before the break with a neat finish. A resilient Sunderland then dug in for a possible replay. To ensure that unwanted scenario would not happen, Aaron Ramsey came off the bench to spark a Gunners revival giving the home side the lead for the first time in the game, with Olivier Giroud finishing the Black Cats off three minutes later. With back to back FA Cup wins under their belts, Arsene Wenger’s side are now in search of an illustrious “threepeat,” of victories at Wembley.

Wenger sent out an experienced line up interspersed with promising youth. Alex Iwobi is highly rated by Wenger and given his first home start here, it is easy to see why. The 19 year old Nigerian showed pace, power and the technical ability to shake off his markers. If he can iron out his final touch before passing in a congested midfield for example, Iwobi will continue to be in Wenger’s immediate to long term plans.

The scoreline 3-1 proved to be a mirror image of their Premier League game in December, with this game showing flashes of similarities too. Sunderland started brightly and soon saw Lens fire wide of Petr Cech’s upright, causing the Arsenal keeper to dive to escort the ball out incase there was a late case of swing.

Iwobi was busy in a midfield which saw Calum Chambers tasked with another more defensive role. After nine minutes, Chambers won possession to play in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He fed Giroud out wide, with Gibbs forward run enabling him to then collect the ball for a shot which Jordan Pickford tipped away for a corner.

With Arsenal appearing to be both confident and comfortable, strangely, it was a defensive mix up which allowed the visitors to take the lead. Gibbs back pass to captain for the day Koscielny seemed to be of little concern. The France defender however was caught in possession as Lens pounced to fire the opener for the Black Cats.

There was no sign of panic from the FA Cup holders, who should have level when Iwobi took off on the left before rolling defender Deandre Yedlin, but then saw his shot blocked for corner by Sebastian Coates. With their next move of note, the Gunners were level.

Iwobi ran at the Black Cats defence, to feed out to Theo Walcott. The England man cut his cross back into the path of Campbell to stroke home from ten yards. Mention must be made of Chambers initial good work in the move.

Walcott’s angled drive almost got Arsenal’s second, with Pickford’s low save, and Campbell’s reflex reaction follow up not converted as the half finished level with a goal apiece.

Both sides hit the woodwork after the break, but the score remained at1-1. Wenger sent on Ramsey for the impressive Iwobi and that proved to be the catalyst for the game changer. Ramsey’s quality and pace gave Sunderland more worries and the introduction of Mikel Arteta for Chambers anchored the midfield.

Ramsey was involved in the move when Giroud just missed a connection from a pacy Gibbs cross. The pressure was coming from both wings with Hector Bellerin seemingly getting even faster.

Gibbs fed Walcott from left, but the England man hit a tame shot at Pickford.
Five minutes after coming on, Ramsey put Arsenal ahead.

Bellerin took off on the right, played a one two with Campbell before feeding Ramsey to clip in from close in for a 2-1 scoreline after 72 minutes. Sunderland were further rocked three minutes later when Oxlade-Chamberlain lifted the ball to Bellerin. His pace was too much for a tiring Black Cats ‘rearguard as the Spain defender crossed for Giroud to tap in for 3-1.

Arsenal were all over Sunderland and were in the mood for more. Gibbs lofted the ball to Giroud. Walcott latched onto the loose ball, and returned it to Giroud. As he surged into the Sunderland area, the France striker appeared to have his his heels clipped but it wasn’t a penalty said referee Mike Atkinson.

On came 17 year old Jeff Reine-Adelaide for Campbell, who given his recent industry, effort and goals will be hard to shift when Wenger gets a fully fit squad.

For the nine minutes that Reine-Adelaide was on the Emirates pitch, we witnessed a strong powerful striker who can play anywhere and has pace in abundance. Think of a muscular of Abou Diaby and you get the picture. The young Frenchman linked up well and found the brief introduction to this level very much to his liking. As with Iwobi, Arsenal have teal talent in reserve.

The Gunners fired off an attempt for a fourth goal when Gibbs’s cross found the head of Giroud but Pickford tipped the ball over for a corner.

A solid start to them defence of their trophy, and Wenger’s side have suggested that they are ready for a “threepeat,” of FA Cup Final wins. The trick as Wenger has always stressed is to be in the hat for the next round.

Arsenal certainly are.