Olivier Giroud scores at both ends as Arsenal topple Sunderland to go second
Arsenal were not at their free-flowing best against Sunderland, but still produced a match-winning performance that moved them up to second in the Barclays Premier League.
Olivier Giroud had scored an own goal on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Joel Campbell's opener, but the Frenchman went on to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross to notch his 10th of the season before the Welshman scored late on for a 3-1 win.
Mesut Ozil was again a joy to watch, his displays all the more important for manager Arsene Wenger with Alexis Sanchez injured, but other than that the Gunners were fairly average.
The Germany midfielder lay on a beautiful pass for Campbell to put the hosts ahead and continued to torment Sam Allardyce's side all afternoon.
Sunderland played their part and actually missed a number of gilt-edged chances to take something back to the north-east, having won their last two leading into this contest.
They should have opened the scoring as they caught Arsenal on the break and Duncan Watmore fed Fabio Borini only for the former Liverpool man to shoot straight at Petr Cech.
Cech was forced into another smart save as Arsenal failed to clear a Watmore cross and Mathieu Flamini's inadvertent deflection towards goal was pushed away by his team-mate.
The hosts broke through just over 10 minutes before the break as Ozil produced a 12th assist in 14 league games, angling an inch-perfect pass into the path of Campbell, who made no mistake in finishing past Costel Pantilimon.
The Black Cats had done well in the opening half and were rewarded with a fortuitous equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Laurent Koscielny was booked for a foul on the busy Watmore and Yann M'Vila's resulting free-kick missed two Sunderland players at the near post but flashed past Cech after hitting the unwitting Giroud.
There was still time for Ramsey to slam an effort into the side-netting after he was picked out by Nacho Monreal.
After the break, Watmore broke out and fed Fletcher, whose low shot was turned behind by Cech and, from the resulting corner, the Czech goalkeeper again kept out Fletcher's close-range effort from Ola Toivonen's flick-on.
But, as England forward Theo Walcott prepared to come on, Giroud put the Gunners back in front as he stooped to head home Ramsey's cross.
For the first time in the game Arsenal were in total control and Giroud went close to adding a third but DeAndre Yedlin was this time able to clear his header off the line.
Ozil's mastery with the ball again opened up the Sunderland defence but Ramsey could not convert with an acrobatic finish.
Sunderland were still in it, though, and Watmore should have done much better when he beat the offside trap before hitting a tame shot at Cech before Patrick van Aanholt ballooned over late on.
But it was Ramsey who struck in stoppage time to secure the three points and set Arsenal up nicely for their pivotal Champions League tie with Olympiacos on Wednesday.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Good home win, no more injuries, 2nd. Struggling to find too much to moan about so I'm going for a celebratory pint. #afc" - Piers Morgan sums up Arsenal's win against Sunderland.
Petr Cech: 7
Hector Bellerin: 6
Per Mertesacker: 6
Laurent Koscielny: 6
Nacho Monreal: 7
Mathieu Flamini: 6
Aaron Ramsey: 7
Joel Campbell: 7
Mesut Ozil: 8
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Olivier Giroud: 7
Theo Walcott: 6
Kieran Gibbs: 6
Calum Chambers: 6
Costel Pantilimon: 6
DeAndre Yedlin: 7
Sebastian Coates: 6
John O'Shea: 6
Younes Kaboul: 6
Patrick van Aanholt: 6
Yann M'Vila: 7
Duncan Watmore: 7
Ola Toivonen: 7
Fabio Borini: 5
Steven Fletcher: 6
Jack Rodwell: 6
Adam Johnson: 6
Jeremain Lens: 6
Mesut Ozil: Yet another sublime display from Arsenal's record signing. With other creative player injured or off-colour, Ozil stepped up and put in another great performance. Set up the opener for Campbell and laid on several more chances, interspersing such moments with the occasion trick and flick.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Fabio Borini: Had a great chance to put Sunderland ahead in the opening stages having been fed by Watmore. Had the former Chelsea and Liverpool man tucked away that opportunity, Allardyce's men would have had something to defend for the remainder of the game.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Wenger will be pleased his side won this one despite not being at their best. Not only did they cope with the loss of both Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, he welcomed Walcott and Gibbs back from injury and was able to give Ramsey a full 90 minutes. Allardyce would have seen anything from here as a bonus but his side created enough to suggest they can continue to pick up points.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Not much wrong with today's contest as the underdogs came and gave it a go against an Arsenal side who were below-par. The apmoshere at the Emirates Stadium was again forgettable - but that is just splitting hairs.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Olympiacos v Arsenal (Champions League, Wednesday, December 9)
Sunderland v Watford (Barclay Premier League, Saturday, December 12)