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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
22 February 2014
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: A. Marriner
• Attendance: 60012
O. Giroud 5', 31'
T. Rosický 42'
L. Koscielny 57'
E. Giaccherini 81'
I'm Alex Moretto, and I'd like to thank you all for joining me for Dennis Bergkamp day at the Emirates, as Arsenal continued their pursuit of the Premier League title. Good bye!
FULL-TIME: ARSENAL 4-1 SUNDERLAND. Impressive display of football from the hosts, who keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. A first-half brace from Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners a lead they would never relinquish, but it's Tomas Rosicky's goal that will stick in the minds of fans as a vintage Arsenal goal. Sunderland have to get back on track ahead of their cup final against Manchester City next weekend, as Gus Poyet would be wise to move on from today's performance as quickly as possible.
90' + 3'
The final minutes are drained by Arsenal and Andre Marriner puts an end to today's proceedings.
Three minutes of added time here at the Emirates...
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal have 59 points from 27 Premier League matches this season with a win here today - eight fewer than at this stage in their 2003-04 title winning campaign.
Arsenal trying to pass it around and run off the final few minutes, but they're not having as easy of a go at it now with the engine Jack Wilshere limping around in midfield. I really don't understand why he's out there. With his injury history, why risk him for the final five minutes of a 4-1 game?
Jack Wilshere picks up a knock now and appears to be in a bit of pain. Wenger is out of substitutions, however, so Arsenal will be playing a man down for the rest of this match. Perhaps Dennis Bergkamp can lace them up for the final five minutes.
Goal Emanuele Giaccherini
GOAL! It's the commentator's curse, I suppose. Sunderland do have a consolation goal, and it's Giaccherini who's scored it. Szczesny punches clear a Seb Larsson cross, but it falls for the Italian who lets fly from 20 yards out. His shot travels across the face of goal, past Szczesny and into the bottom corner.
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal have gone five league matches without conceding at the Emirates Stadium. They have kept nine clean sheets at home this season, the most in England’s top flight. They can make it six and ten respectively if they keep Sunderland from finding a consolation goal late on.
It is Larsson who hits it, and it's just inches wide. So close to an opening goal for Sunderland. The Swede goes for power, as he gets it over the wall, but just can't quite pick out the top corner. He looked to have had Szczesny beaten.
Sunderland back the other way. Giaccherini is fouled by Jenkinson at the top of the box, and Larsson might fancy his chances with a free kick from here.
Nearly a fifth for Arsenal. Wilshere pounces on a lose ball and perfectly weights a pass for Gnabry in behind the defence, but he slips as he gets his shot off and Mannone manages to keep it out.
Arsenal back-line started out with Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Monreal. After two substitutions, it's Jenkinson at right-back, Sagna and Mertesacker in the centre and Flamini at left-back. It goes to show the versatility of some of these players Arsenal have at the back.
Arsenal passing around at will at the moment. A string of nearly 40 passes had the crowd cheering in full force with each one. It's finally given away by Jenkinson under the pressure of Giaccherini and the fans let out a loud cheer to show their approval.
Sunderland nearly snatch a consolation goal. A cross in is headed back into the danger area by Larsson. Ki charges in to meet it, but Szczesny does brilliantly to get down quickly enough to keep it out.
Laurent Koscielny goes down now. He looks to be ok, but Wenger doesn't want to risk anything as he brings on Mathieu Flamini to take his place. It could very well be fatigue kicking in for some of these Arsenal players.
STAT ATTACK: Poyet has never beaten Arsenal (6D, 5L) in 11 matches as a player with both Chelsea and Tottenham, and now has yet to beat them as a manager.
Girioud down now after a tackle from John O'Shea. He's likely killing some time, as there didn't look to be too much in it. Training staff is out, but Giroud appears to be fine.
Gus Poyet called this game the perfect dress rehearsal for Sunderland as they prepare for City in the League Cup final next week. They have eight days to correct what went wrong today, and right the ship.
Assist Santi Cazorla
Goal Laurent Koscielny
GOAL! Forget a Sunderland goal, it's another for Arsenal! Vergini horribly misplays a cross, allowing the Gunners to win a corner. Cazorla crosses in to an unmarked Laurent Koscielny, who won't get an easier goal than that. It's a fourth for Arsenal and that will do it.
Arsenal don't look like controlling the game in the second half. With a wealth of fixtures on the horizon, they will be content to sit back and play on the counter, as to exert as little energy as they can. A Sunderland goal could of course change things.
Yellow Card Emanuele Giaccherini
Arsenal regain possession and try to break. Giroud goes streaking down the left flank, but he's dragged down by Giaccherini who is in turn shown a yellow card less than 10 minutes after entering the match.
The corner is cleared and the ball is sent down the pitch. Sunderland win it back and push forward again. This time a long ball over the top is cleared by Mertesacker and it's another corner. Much better from Sunderland.
Well the pace hasn't seemed to have picked up at all, but Sunderland are doing their best Arsenal impression early on here, passing it around in midfield. Larsson picks out the run of Borini, but Szczesny palms away the Italian's strong shot behind for a corner.
Giaccherini and Larsson come on for Sunderland to start the second half, as Jozy Altidore and Adam Johnson's days come to an end. The Black Cats kick-off and we're back underway at the Emirates!
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal have led 10 times at the Emirates this season, and have won every one of those matches.
Sunderland are likely looking ahead to next Sunday's Capital One Cup final, although Gus Poyet said players would be battling it out today to earn a spot in the starting XI for that match. If that's the case, he's going to be faced with quite a few selection dilemma's this week, and not the good kind, either.
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 3-0 SUNDERLAND. The hosts are paying tribute to club legend Dennis Bergkamp is the most fitting way they know how. Wonderful display of passing shown by Arsene Wenger's team in the first-half, straight from the training ground. Arsenal haven't missed a step without Ozil, and in fact look better than they have in quite a few weeks. There's really nothing to say about Sunderland, who quite frankly have wasted everyone's time by showing up today. A packed fixture-list may have contributed to the visitors performance so far today, but they've been very poor in the opening 45 minutes, standing and watching as Arsenal pass it around.
The move to produce that goal rivals the build-up that led to Wilshere's goal against Norwich earlier in the season. Arsenal really do spoil their fans on days like this. It's stunning football from the Gunners.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Tomas Rosicky
GOAAAAAL! Delightful football from Arsenal! It's straight from the training ground. One touch passing from the Gunners as Wilshere picks out the run of Rosicky, who works a one-two with Giroud to get in behind the defence. The Czech international chips Mannone and the Gunners are running away with this one now.
More great link-up play from Wenger's side has Sunderland on their heels here! Podolski weaves through a few defenders, before laying off for Cazorla. The Spaniard picks out Wilshere just inside the box, but his back heel pass is too far for Podolski and Sunderland are forced into another rushed clearance.
The corner is cleared, but Arsenal are back in possession. Wilshere dances through a few tackles in midfield before Alonso takes him out with a rather cynical challenge. The foul is given, but it's just a warning for the Spaniard, who may have gotten away with one there.
More passing from the Gunners, and this time Vergini takes out Giroud at the top of the box. Andre Marriner awards a free kick, but Podolski's shot is deflected behind for a corner. Sunderland look like they didn't show up today.
Arsenal are right back in attack after their goal. Sagna lets fly from 30 yards out and it takes a massive deflection, but sails wide. The deflection had Mannone beaten, and that could have spelled disaster for Sunderland.
Goal Olivier Giroud
GOAL! My goodness, it's so sloppy from Sunderland. Bardsley is put under pressure, and his back pass is far to weak, as it's played directly into the path of Giroud who slots home through the leg of Mannone. That's a gift he'll gladly accept, as the Gunners open a comfortable 2-0 lead.
STAT ATTACK: Sunderland have the opportunity to extend their streak to seven Premier League away matches unbeaten – a feat they have never before accomplished.
Close for Arsenal. They are a joy to watch when they pass the ball around like this. Sagna tackles Ki strongly near the corner flag, then picks out Arteta in the box. He tries a one-two with Giroud, but the return pass runs a bit to far and Sunderland clear the danger.
Szczesny out to catch the corner and Arsenal push forward, slowly, passing around in the midfield. The early goal has done nothing to open the game up. In fact, it's got Arsenal slowing the pace, and Sunderland seem content with doing the same for the time being.
Sunderland finally push forward again, and they win a free kick. The centre-backs charge into the box as Johnson prepares to whip it in. The cross is good, but not attacked well enough by Sunderland and Arsenal clear it behind for a corner.
The Gunners are outclassing Sunderland all over the pitch. After another string of passes, the ball is laid off for Podolski who smacks it towards goal with that thundering left foot of his. Mannone's strong hands keep the ball out but Arsenal have a corner.
Arsenal are lulling Sunderland to sleep with their sharp, accurate passing. They are keeping possession with ease in the attacking half, and that won't change unless the Black Cats start pressuring the ball carrier.
Johnson picks out Altidore, who pushes it forward for Ki. The midfielder finds Alonso on the left, and his low, driven cross is nearly overplayed by Szczesny, as he has to dive back towards his net to secure it. That's much more encouraging from Sunderland.
Lethargic start from Sunderland and Arsenal are making them pay. They Gunners win their first corner of the match, but Cazorla's cross is cleared and the Black Cats push forward on the break.
STAT ATTACK: The six goals Arsenal have allowed at the Emirates this season is the fewest in the Premier League. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are second best, allowing nine each.
Borini is down now after colliding with Szczesny going after a lose ball. Strong goalkeeping from the Poland international, who was shown a red card for botching a similar situation against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Arsenal right back into the attacking half. They earn a free kick along the right, and work the ball forward before Rosicky finds Cazorla inside the box. The Spaniard has a go with his weaker foot but it's a straightforward stop for Mannone.
Goal Olivier Giroud
GOAAAAAAAL! A wonderfully worked goal from the Gunners, who display some beautiful ball movement in the build-up, picking apart the Sunderland defence. Wilshere at the heart of it, he finds Giroud with the final ball and the Frenchman easily slides it home past Mannone.
Relaxed start to the match from Arsenal, as they keep possession well in the attacking half. Sunderland keeping their shape well, but aren't pressuring the ball, allowing the Gunners plenty of time and space. The ball is worked through for Sagna, but his cross is behind Giroud and cleared .
Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla get the day's action underway! Arsenal movin from left to right, wearing their red and white kits, while Sunderland are sporting their yellow away shirts.
STAT ATTACK: The Black Cats haven't won at Arsenal's manor in 14 trips to North London, with their last success coming in November of 1983.
Steven Fletcher (Achilles) faced a late fitness test, but has not been deemed fit enough to play. Carlos Cuellar (hip) is back in the team, and available to use as a substitute.
SUBS: Larsson, Gardner, Celustka, Giaccherini, Cuellar, Scocco, Ustari.
SUNDERLAND XI: Mannone; Bardsley, Vergini, O'Shea, Marcos Alonso; Johnson, Ki, Birdcutt, Colback, Borini; Altidore.
Mesut Ozil gets a breather, perhaps Wenger sending a message to the German who has experienced a significant dip in form of late. Kieran Gibbs will miss the match after picking up a hamstring injury in their loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, while Aaron Ramsey remains out for the Gunners. Olivier Giroud returns to the starting line-up after being rested midweek.
SUBS: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Fabianski, Sanogo, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gnabry.
ARSENAL XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Wilshere, Arteta; Cazorla, Rosicky, Podolski; Giroud.
The teams have been announced, so let's have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Sunderland visit the Emirates today flowing with confidence thanks to their recent good form. The Black Cats haven't lost a league game away from the Stadium of Light since November 23rd, a streak of six games, which has been somewhat of a saving grace for Gus Poyet's team. Any sort of points from today's match could pull Sunderland out of the relegation zone, ahead of both West Bromwich and Norwich City, a prospect that seemed unlikely as we entered the New Year.
Arsenal need a win today, but it will be far from straightforward for the Gunners. Wenger's team was top in the Premier League a few short weeks ago, but have struggled of late, winning twice from their last six in all competitions. This stretch couldn't have come at a worse time for the Gunners, with a growing list of injuries and a heavy fixture list on the horizon, it's essential for them to get back to their winning ways here today.
It's Dennis Bergkamp day at the Emirates! A statue of the legendary Dutchman is set to be unveiled before the match outside the stadium, honoring his iconic career as a member of the Gunners.
Good afternoon Premier League fans around the world, and welcome to today's match, as Arsenal play host to Sunderland at the Emirates. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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