Arsenal held by stubborn Sunderland

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Arsenal's 2012-13 Premier League campaign got off to a disappointing start following a goalless draw at home to Sunderland.

Little more than 24 hours after former captain Robin van Persie put pen to paper on a four-year deal to sign for rivals Manchester United, the Dutchman's absence was already abundantly clear, as the Gunners lacked any real firepower upfront.

Arsene Wenger handed a debut to Lukas Podolski, who was supported from the flanks by Theo Walcott and Gervinho, with fellow new recruit Santi Cazorla playing more centrally behind.

Abou Diaby had a fine first-half effort saved by Simon Mignolet in the Black Cats goal, but Arsenal could not find a way past a resolute Sunderland defence.

Olivier Giroud replaced Podolski midway through the second half, and the Frenchman was guilty of spurning perhaps the best of Arsenal's few created chances, missing the target from 12 yards.

As wasteful as Wenger's side were, though, credit must also go to Sunderland, who were tireless in closing down space on a sweltering afternoon at the Emirates Stadium, and Martin O'Neill's players fully deserved their point.

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