It appeared as if Arsenal carried their performance in the San Siro into the Stadium of Light as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland.
Arsenal started the game well, but their momentum soon subsided when young Francis Coquelin, who started at left back, hopped off with an injury after 10 minutes to be replaced by Squillaci.
Sunderland soon upped their tempo and Stephane Sessegnon almost raced free for a one-on-one on 11 minutes only for Djourou to scupper his efforts.
Sunderland pressed high into the Gunners’ half mid way through the first half, with the likes of Lee Cattermole putting a lot of pressure on the Arsenal midfield.
However the Gunners showed the fluid passing that they are known for and, keeping possession, they began to threaten.
Somewhat against the run of play, the Black Cats took the lead late into the first half following a poorly cleared Larsson free-kick, as Richardson hammered the ball home, via a Squillaci, deflection to make it 1-0 to Martin O’Neill’s men before half time.
Immediately after the goal, Sunderland almost doubled their lead, when Irish sensation James McClean threatened to sneak the ball past Fabianski, but to Arsene Wenger’s relief it hit the side netting.
The second half saw Arsenal suffer more injuries, as Squillaci and Aaron Ramsey left the fray. And in response, Arsenal’s frustration exploded, as exemplified by the dangerous tackling of Djourou, who should probably have seen red for a reckless fould on Sessegnon on 55 minutes.
On 65 minutes Robin Van Persie threatened to put Arsenal back into the game but his free kick deflected wide of the right post.
Arsenal’s woes were compounded on 78 minutes as a Gardner shot cannons off the post and onto the shins of the oncoming Oxlade-Chamberlain before bouncing into the net, making it 2-0 to Sunderland.
Robin Van Persie had another chance to bring his side back into the game on 85 minutes, finding space in the box, but his effort was miles over the bar and the game ended 2-0.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, O’Shea, Turner, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Gardner, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon (Campbell 88).
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Coquelin (Squillaci 10 (Rosicky 53)), Song, Arteta, Gervinho, Ramsey (Walcott 53), Oxlade-Chamberlain, van Persie.