Robin van Persie rescues wasteful Arsenal

Arsenal 2 Sunderland 1

Robin van Persie rescued Arsenal from another disappointing Barclays Premier League result with a fantastic winner against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.

The Holland striker, who used his programme notes to declare his full commitment to Arsenal, put the hosts ahead after just 29 seconds but the sides went in level at half-time thanks to an excellent free-kick from former Gunner Sebastian Larsson.

The game appeared destined for a draw as Arsenal proceeded to squander several good second-half chances, but Van Persie saved the Londoners' blushes with a wonderful curling free-kick nine minutes from time.

The win gave Arsenal the perfect tonic after their north London derby defeat two weeks ago, but the creaky manner in which they snuck past struggling Sunderland will do little to silence the doubters who claim the Gunners are a spent force.

Under-pressure Black Cats boss Steve Bruce, meanwhile, will rue his side's failure to convert a number of first-half opportunities and they now sit outside the drop zone only on goal difference.

Keen to make up for their loss at White Hart Lane, Arsenal flew out of the blocks and took an early lead.

Some Arsenal fans had still not taken their seats by the time that Gervinho got on the end of Tomas Rosicky's lobbed pass and squared to Van Persie, who took one touch before drilling low past Simon Mignolet from 18 yards to record the fastest top-flight goal of the season so far.

The strike stunned the Black Cats and they remained on the back foot for the rest of the opening half hour.

This was the Arsenal of old. Confident in possession and sturdy at the back, they pushed for a second as the away side struggled to get a touch on the ball.

Van Persie was then denied an early contender for goal of the season by the woodwork.

With 13 minutes on the clock, the Dutchman spun his marker on the edge of the box and clipped a delightful chip that sailed over Mignolet but bounced out off the post and Gervinho just missed out on the tap-in.

Full of confidence, Van Persie than flashed a powerful 20-yard drive just wide.

Gervinho was also in his pomp. The Ivory Coast man cut inside from the left flank with a clever turn and crashed a fierce shot just over.

Wojciech Szczesny then went walkabout, handing Sessegnon a glorious chance to equalise, but the winger's cross was cut out by Alex Song as the Arsenal goal lay unguarded.

Arsenal's confidence was knocked and Sunderland shocked the home crowd with a stunning equaliser from Larsson.

Mikel Arteta's handball gave the Black Cats a free-kick 20 yards out and Larsson whipped a delightful curling shot over the wall and past a sprawling Szczesny to make it 1-1.

The strike was so good that Rosicky had already started walking to the halfway line without turning his back to see if the shot had gone in.

Szczesny denied Sunderland the lead moments later when he blocked Lee Cattermole's header from six yards after an error from Carl Jenkinson allowed Sessegnon to break down the left.

The game became scrappy at the start of the second half.

David Vaughan earned the first booking of the game with a cynical two-footed sliding tackle on Rosicky and he was soon followed in to the book by Larsson, who tugged Van Persie's shirt.

Tensions mounted as Alex Song was booked for a foul on Sessegnon and then John O'Shea upended Rosicky on the edge of the box, giving Arsenal a dangerous free-kick which Arteta duly ploughed in to the stands.

Brown was lucky to escape with a booking after clattering into Walcott in a similar position minutes later. The England winger picked himself up to take the free-kick but the home fans groaned collectively as, again, the set-piece flew well over.

Howard Webb produced his fifth yellow card of the game after Laurent Koscielny body-checked Sessegnon before Mignolet kept Van Persie's near-post effort out with his feet as Arsenal increased the pressure on the visitors.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger looked despondent on the bench as Alex Song then broke into the box and inexplicably passed to a Sunderland defender with time running out.

A moment of brilliance from substitute Andrey Arshavin almost gave Arsenal the lead with just under 20 minutes left.

The Russian danced past two Sunderland defenders into the box and nutmegged Michael Turner with a shot that went a yard wide of Mignolet's goal.

Brown's clumsy challenge on Van Persie gave Arsenal another free-kick on the edge of the box with nine minutes left. The Holland international succeeded where his team-mates had failed before him by curling a brilliant set-piece into the top corner and then removing his shirt in a jubilant celebration.

Ji Dong-won was then played in to the box by Connor Wickham and slotted past Szczesny but his effort was rightly ruled out for offside.

Sunderland pushed for a second equaliser towards the end, but it never came and Wenger's side took the spoils after another nervy afternoon.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Life and Style
life + style
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor