Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal: instant reaction

Laurence Griffiths

Arsenal survived and took the victory late thanks to Aaron Ramsey's two goals in the second half

Arsenal took the early lead thanks to The Mesut Ozil Show and on-fire Olivier Giroud. Ozil, who didn't disappoint in his first appearance as a Gunner, later fed Theo Walcott for a couple final balls that ended up saved and showed why he's easily considered one of the top midfielders in the world. However, the away side went into half only up one when it could have been three.

Sunderland came out of half reinvigorated and adjusted quite effectively. It culminated in a yet-again Laurent Koscielny challenge on Adam Johnson that led to a converted penalty attempt by Craig Gardner. Without the sick Per Mertesacker, Koscielny struggled mightily today. He's out of form so far this season and one wonders if Thomas Vermaelen's return to fitness sees Koscielny rotating in-and-out of the lineup.

But as soon as we were fretting if this was going to play itself out in a typical Arsenal away horror show to a mid-table club, Wales's best footballer, Aaron Ramsey, scored two magnificent goals that put the match quickly out of reach. Ramsey is absolutely killing it this season and is, by far, the club's best player so far. His ability to tackle, anticipate, intercept passes and, nowadays, attack and make timely runs into space while being clinical in his shots makes up for Mikel Arteta's absence and then some.

And speaking of that, Ramsey would not be able to push forward without having the confidence that someone is covering the space behind and Mathieu Flamini made that possible today. Needless to say, he was everywhere. His free signing is paying off quickly as he gives a certain kind of steel and intelligence in front of our back four.

All in all, a good win away to a side that took it to Arsenal in attack and nearly took three points.

Also, thank you Martin Atkinson for swallowing your whistle. Love you.

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