Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland: Captain Van Persie fires superb brace to clinch victory for Arsene Wenger's men

Dutchman hits brace as Wenger's side earns victory to climb into the top half of the table, while Wearsiders hover above the relegation zone.

Arsenal claimed the third win of the season as it beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie led the way with a brace, while former player Sebastian Larsson netted for the visitors.

The Gunners got off to a great start scoring after just 29 seconds when Gervinho was put clear of the Black Cats defense by Tomas Rosicky and slid the ball across to Van Persie, who made no mistake firing past Simon Mignolet.

Arsene Wenger’s side was having the better of the early minutes with Gervinho especially seeing a lot the ball and the Ivorian cut open the Sunderland defense again but this time his ball across the area was well cut out by Wes Brown.

Arsenal should have doubled its lead through Van Persie, who was on top form, as he controlled the ball and skinned Kieran Richardson before chipping a delightful effort at goal which looped over Mignolet but struck the inside of the post and was cleared by the Black Cats defense.

Despite the Gunners dominance Sunderland started to get back into the game and could have got an equalizer when Stephane Sessegnon rounded Woiciech Szczesny and tried to find Lee Cattermole, but Alex Song prevented the ball getting to Wearsiders skipper with a good intervention.

The Black Cats did get their equalizer minutes later through former Arsenal-man Larsson as his spectacular 25-yard free kick soared into the top corner, leaving Szczesny with no chance to draw Steve Bruce’s side level.

Sunderland should have taken the lead as the half near its end as Sessegnon was put through again behind the Gunners defense. The Benin international then crossed for Cattermole, whose header from 2-yards was fantastically saved by Szczesny however the midfielder should have found the net.

Steve Bruce’s side was guilty again of spurning chances this time Jack Colback should have got his effort on target after blazing his volley over the bar from 10 yards following a good Sunderland move.

The Gunners came out in the second half and began to dominate possession and Mignolet was forced into an early save as a Theo Walcott effort was deflected towards goal but the Belgian was equal to it.

Referee Howard Webb had a quiet first half but was called into action regularly in the first 15 minutes of the second-period booking five players as challenges from both sides flew in.

Arsenal had opportunities with free kicks just outside the Sunderland box but Andre Santos, Mikel Arteta and Walcott are spurned their chances when they should have at least tested Mignolet.

Gunners substitute Andrei Arshavin nearly found a way through the stubborn Black Cats defense as he jinked between John O’Shea and Wes Brown before firing a left-footed shot just wide of the post with Mignolet beaten.

Sunderland was trying to hold and struggling to get out of its own half and seemed to content to take a point away from the Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger’s side finally got its second goal in the 83rd minute through Van Persie, whose sublime free kick sailed over the Sunderland wall and into the top corner of net, leaving Mignolet with no chance.

The Black Cats tried to get back into the game but were unable to create any clear cut chances as the home side retained possession and hit them on the counter-attack.

Wenger’s side held onto the points as it climbed into the top half of the table to ease the pressure on the Frenchman. Meanwhile Sunderland is only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

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