Last Updated: 19/08/12 4:58pm
A frustrating start to life without van Persie for the Gunners but a very creditable point for Sunderland.
Sunderland are keeping the ball now as well as they have at any period during this second half. This will be a thoroughly deserved point if they can hold on.
WHAT A CHANCE! Cazorla's beautiful pass splits the Sunderland defence but Giroud, who has only Mignolet to beat from a central postion in the box, slices wide of the target. That's the best chance Arsenal have created, and wasted.
Arshavin tees up fellow substitute Ramsey, who shoots woefully over the crossbar. Sunderland look tired but Mignolet remains untroubled.
Sunderland also make their final change, with an exhausted-looking Larsson limping off to make way for Meyler.
Groans around the Emirates once more after Jenkinson's cross is volleyed high over the bar by Giroud.
Elmohamady is on in place of Campbell, who has grafted hard during his 70 minutes. Cuellar is also feeling the effects of the heat, with the Spaniard suffering from cramp.
Ramsey replaces Diaby, and the Welshman is immediately involved, shooting low but straight at Mignolet.
Halfway through the second half and it seems to be a case of 'same old Arsenal'. Sunderland have hardly got out their own half, but Arsenal's attack is breaking down in the congested areas around the box.
Arsenal also make a change, with Giroud replacing fellow debutant Podolski. Let's see if the Frenchman has any more joy against the stubborn Sunderland defence.
Arsenal miss the target once more. Gibbs' volley across the box misses Podolski, but Walcott shoots into the sidenetting from the far post.
Cazorla goes close again! Cuellar blocks Gervinho's drive but the ball breaks to Cazorla, whose shot on the bounce goes wide of Mignolet's goal.
Sunderland will do well in these conditions to maintain this level of pressure on the ball. Sessegnon has barely had a kick since half-time and Szczesny is a virtual spectator. Arsenal now have a free-kick within shooting range after a foul on Walcott...
Cazorla finds space in front of the Sunderland defence and opts to shoot, but his piledriver is blocked by the head of Cuellar, who doesn't even flinch.
Neither side has really found their stride after the break. It could be the heat - it is a very hot day in north London - but the second period has been quite untidy so far.
Podolski is almost through after Arsenal cleared a Sunderland set piece, but Richardson turns on the afterburners to get across from left-back to intercept the danger.
Arsenal fan Alan isn't happy. 'Nothing's changed, same old rubbish,' is his verdict on the first half. @AlexMWeekes and @JamesMurus still believe, though. They both predict a 2-0 home win. Any Black Cats out there fancy their chances of a famous win?
If you fancy Cazorla to break Sunderland's resistance, our friends at Sky Bet are offering 7/1 for the Spaniard to net the opening goal. He's already had two efforts, one which forced Mignolet into a fine save and another which was narrowly off target. Alternatively, you can get 8/1 on Sunderland to earn an away win. They have looked dangerous on the break.
What do we all think? @SamKBurke isn't letting the goalless first-half dampen his enthusiasm and still believes his Gooners will win 2-0, with debut goals for Podolski and Cazorla. Both have looked dangerous.
That's it for the first-half, which ends goalless, but it has been anything but dull. Both goalkeepers have been called in to action and, while Arsenal have had their moments, Sunderland will be happy with the opening 45 minutes of their season.
CHANCE: This time for Arsenal, as Cazorla puts in Walcott on the right of the box, but the England winger's cut-back is cleared off the toe of Podolski, who had the goal gaping. I said the game was drifting to half-time, didn't I?!
CHANCE: More like a half-chance, but it falls to Colback, who is slid in by Campbell, but the Sunderland midfielder finds the angle and Arteta too tough to beat. Side netting
The game appears now to be drifting towards half-time, with Sunderland having put a stop to a bright period for Arsenal around the half-hour mark. Cazorla is the most dangerous threat for Arsenal, but he's having a tough time trying to escape the attention of Cattermole.
Arsenal fill the box for a free-kick in a dangerous position on the right but, with Vermaelen and Mertesacker both forward, Arteta goes for goal and smashes his effort high over the bar. Wasteful.
Sunderland go down to 10 men temporarily after James McClean is told to leave the field... to change the colour of his sock tape.
SAVE: Mignolet has to tip Diaby's low shot from the edge of the box around the post after some neat interplay involving Arteta and Podolski. Arsenal, perhaps, beginning to find their rhythm.
CHANCE: Cazorla pulls the strings again as the new boy drifts to the left, beats Campbell, and delivers an inswinging cross which is headed over by Walcott.
Panic in the Sunderland six-yard box! Jenkinson's low cross almost reaches Podolski but, somehow, a combination of Cuellar and Mignolet clear the danger. Walcott follows a succession of corners with a scuffed shot from the edge of the box which bobbles wide.
CHANCE: Gervinho beats Gardner and O'Shea before cutting back for Cazorla, but the Spaniard's low effort from 16 yards is pulled wide of the near post. Great opportunity for a debut goal.
SAVE: Szczesny has to get down sharply to his right to stop Jack Colback's drive from 20 yards after the Sunderland youngster was teed up by Sessegnon.
Abou Diaby has had an encouraging start as a replacement for Song, and his burst from midfield concludes with a cross from deep on the right which has to be grasped by Mignolet.
Sunderland are dropping into a 4-5-1 when Arsenal have the ball, which has been for much of the opening period. Sessegnon is in for a long afternoon as the lone frontman, but he's already had some joy when running at Vermaelen.
GREAT SAVES: Szczesny has to block McClean's effort with his legs, before Cazorla's blast from 20 yards is beaten away by Mignolet. Positive start by both sides.
O'Shea gives Simon Mignolet an early scare with a backpass which looks short, but the goalkeeper manages to clear before Podolski can profit.
@TheWhitesome and @isaacs90 both fancy a 3-1 home win but @stevenEsq is bucking the trend with a prediction of 2-1 to Sunderland. Let's see, shall we...
As the teams emerge from the tunnel, with Thomas Vermaelen leading out the hosts, let's have a look at some of your Tweets...
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 11 opening day fixtures, while O'Neill has only got the better of Wenger in one of their 16 previous Premier League meetings. Can Sunderland pull it off today?
It appears to be an uphill task for Sunderland this afternoon and history offers little encouragement. Of the Black Cats' starting line-up, only John O'Shea and Cuellar had been born in time to see Sunderland's last win at Arsenal, which came in November 1985.
Liam, a Sunderland fan, is disappointed not to see Saha in the starting line-up and is bracing himself for a 2-1 defeat.
Kyle and Rich, both Gooners, have been in touch and both fancy a home win this afternoon, 3-1 and 2-1 respectively. Jonathan from Stevenage is expecting big things from Podolski and Cazorla and, I agree, both look to be excellent signings.
Carlos Cuellar makes his first Premier League appearance in a Sunderland shirt, but Louis Saha only makes the bench after he joined O'Neill's ranks earlier this week.
Arsenal's summer signings, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, will make their Premier League debuts, while Olivier Giroud is among Arsene Wenger's substitutes.Theo Walcott has passed a fitness test to take his place in the attack, but Alex Song sits out amid speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.
What's the feeling ahead of the big kick-off? Nervous? Optimistic? Nervously optimistic? You can drop me a line at any point through the afternoon, either by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ianwatson1.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Gardner, Richardson, O'Shea, Cuellar, Larsson, McClean, Cattermole, Colback, Sessegnon, Campbell.
ARSENAL: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski.