Robin rescues win for Gunners
Arsenal withstood a Sunderland fightback to win 3-2 and return to the top of the Premier League.
Last Updated: 07/10/07 4:13pm
Arsenal withstood a Sunderland fightback to win their tenth consecutive game and return to the top of the Premier League.
The Gunners began superbly and opened up a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes as Robin van Persie smashed home a free-kick and Philippe Senderos took advantage of some dismal defending.
Abou Diaby also had two goals disallowed before the Arsenal onslaught ended abruptly in the 25th minute, as Sunderland mounted their first significant attack of the game and Ross Wallace finished smartly to pull the score back to 2-1.
The Black Cats were lifted by Wallace's goal and equalised three minutes into the second half when Kenwyne Jones headed Liam Miller's left-wing cross past Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal started to grow frustrated as the clock ticked down but Van Persie slotted home Theo Walcott's pass after 80 minutes to secure a 3-2 win, before Paul McShane was sent off in stoppage time.
It was no surprise when Arsenal took the lead after seven minutes. Grant Leadbitter pushed over Cesc Fabregas in a central position 20 yards out. Diaby lashed the loose ball into the net just after the referee's whistle - but the home side did not have to wait long for a goal.
Van Persie, on target in Romania earlier this week, set himself for the resulting free-kick - and promptly smashed a superb left-footed effort in off the underside of the crossbar.
Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon could not do much about that simply unstoppable shot, but the big Scot soon produced a fine reaction save.
Right-back Bakar Sagna skipped away down the flank, and his centre sat up perfectly for Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Togo striker leapt above the defence to power a header goalwards, but Gordon acrobatically tipped the ball over.
However, after 14 minute, it was 2-0, with Gordon again let down horribly by his defence.
Sunderland failed to clear their lines from a corner on the left. The ball was sent back across into the danger area. Diaby's mis-kick saw it roll through to Philippe Senderos - who stabbed a low shot into the bottom right corner for a first Arsenal goal since January 2006.
The visitors were in danger of getting torn apart at every attack and were fortunate not to have been further behind after 20 minutes when Alexander Hleb's cross was swept in at the far post by Diaby - only for the assistant to flag for what looked a poor offside call against Mathieu Flamini in the middle.
Sunderland snatched a lifeline in the 25th minute. A long punt up field saw Jones get ahead of full-back Gael Clichy. His angled shot was well saved by Manuel Almunia.
However, the loose ball fell to Ross Wallace on the edge of the area, who controlled it on his chest before calmly stroking it into the net.
Sunderland were understandably lifted by the goal, and suddenly found themselves with a spell of possession in the Arsenal half.
However, the Gunners were dangerous on the counter attack. Van Persie let fly with a fierce effort from 25 yards following a quick break, which Gordon tipped over.
From the resulting corner on the right, Senderos lost his marker at the far post, but somehow the Swiss defender headed wide from four yards.
However, Sunderland were back on level terms within three minutes of the restart. The ball was worked out to Miller on the left. His deep cross looped into the Arsenal six-yard box, and Jones got up above Clichy to send a downward header past Almunia - to the clear delight of the massed travelling ranks behind the goal.
Arsenal were within inches of going ahead again when Kolo Toure picked the ball up and cracked a 30-yard screamer goalwards, which came back off the inside of Gordon's right-hand post.
Walcott, sent on with 33 minutes left, had his moment to grab the headlines when Hleb got inside down the left and cut the ball back to the far post, but he completely missed his kick from four yards.
However, the former Southampton trainee redeemed himself when he showed great close control to step his marker on the edge of the box and put in Van Persie, who drilled a low shot past Gordon into the bottom right corner.
Sunderland finished the game with 10 men when McShane was shown a straight red for clattering into Hleb with his knee when the Arsenal winger was on the floor.
Walcott struck the base of the post in stoppage time with an angle drive from the right, but by then it did not matter.
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||7|
|11||Shots off Target||4|