Arsenal left the Stadium of Light with three points and their third win of the season after being handed a 2-0 win by a much-improved Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Looking for a response from their 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Southampton last weekend, manager Gus Poyet got that at least that but two of the worst defensive howlers you are likely to see gave Alexis Sanchez a brace and let the Gunners off.
Arsene Wenger wanted a more dominant display after the late midweek win over Anderlecht, but there was little difference in this listless performance by his side, who struggled to create their own chances throughout the game.
However, winning is the preferable outcome when not at your best and Sanchez at least got reward for his hard work and perseverance. Wes Brown’s awful attempt at a back pass on the half hour mark gave the Chilean a one-on-one against former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone and he finished with a cute chipped finish.
With Sunderland growing in confidence and pressing for an equaliser, it looked as though Wenger’s side could succumb, but Mannone handed them the win in stoppage time by miscontrolling a back pass and getting dispossessed by the £30million summer signing to tap home.
An unconvincing, though relieving win, for the Gunners then – here are the Arsenal player ratings…
Wojciech Szczesny – 6
Had little do despite late pressure on his defence and was equal to everuthing that was thrown at him.
Kieran Gibbs – 7
Was good on the ball as usual and get forward plenty, but could not get in behind a resolute Sunderland defence. Worryingly for Gunners fans, picked up an injury and was replaced by Hector Bellerin on 75 minutes.
Calum Chambers – 7
Had some success down the right but could produce the final ball needed. Defended well and adjusted well when moved inside due to Gibbs’ injury.
Nacho Monreal – 7
Again, did not look at all comfortable playing at centre-half but the Black Cats failed to muster much of a challenge.
Per Mertesacker – 7
The German was authoritative when he needed to be, while dominating in the air. An unruffled performance ended in concern as he looked to be hobbling with an injury.
Mikel Arteta – 6
Has been kept out of the team recently by Mathieu Flamini, but the Gunners skipper stepped in without much fuss here. Was calm and collected in possession, which his side have needed, but provided little in attack. Replaced by Aaron Ramsey late on.
Mathieu Flamini – 6
Less onus on him to be creative with Arteta beside him, the Frenchman played the role of enforcer well enough. Put in a few tasty challenges.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5
The England international has struggled for form in the past few weeks and was prone to giving the ball away needlessly. Such is his pace and positivity, Oxlade-Chamberlain always looks as though he could produce something, but it’s not happening for him at the moment. Came off for Rosicky in injury time.
Santi Cazorla – 6
Another who is struggling for form at the moment, the Spaniard appears to have lost his shooting boots. Three good shooting opportunities were ballooned over the bar, but he moved the ball about tidily without ever creating a great deal.
Alexis Sanchez – 8
Wenger must be thanking his lucky stars for the Chilean star, who just cannot seem to be subdued for 90 minutes. He worked so hard throughout the game and was always trying to make stuff happen. Yes, his two goals were handed to him, but they were a result of his harrying and tremendous workrate.
Danny Welbeck – 7
Another who will always work hard, the Englishman is struggling to get much decent service at the moment. He did get on the ball in a couple of decent positions at the Stadium of Light, however, but could not find the right option.
Hector Bellerin (Gibbs 75’) – 6
Almost had a nightmare start when giving the ball away with his first touch, but recovered well to win it back and clear. Was solid for the final stages when Arsenal had to be resilient and looks a very good prospect.
Aaron Ramsey (Arteta 88’) & Tomas Rosicky (Oxlade-Chamberlain 90’) – 6
Neither had time to do much, but didn’t do anything wrong.
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