The Frenchman scored two first-half goals, while Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny completed a brilliant day for the Gunners as they swept the Black Cats aside
|VIEW FROM THE EMIRATES
|By Ewan Roberts at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal secured exactly the response they were looking for after the disappointment of their midweek loss to Bayern Munich, running out comfortable and convincing winners over Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger made the bold move of dropping Mesut Ozil from the matchday squad but his absence was not felt. Olivier Giroud, returning to the first team, gave a decisive display as he netted twice and set-up a third.
The Gunners' plethora of playmakers pulled the strings and laid the foundations for a dominant performance, with Tomas Rosicky capping a fine team move with a stunning goal.
Arsenal's title credentials, then, remain intact – perhaps even enhanced. Sunderland, though, will need to get over the result fast ahead of the Capital One Cup final, while Gus Poyet, having never beating the Gunners as a player, will be wondering how he can ever hope to thwart Wenger.
The Frenchman was restored to the starting line-up in place of Yaya Sanogo by Arsene Wenger and duly repaid his manager's faith with two first-half goals.
Tomas Rosicky then added a third in magnificant fashion, before Laurent Koscielny added insult to injury with a fourth after half-time, despite a late consolation from Emanuele Giaccherini.
The result sees the Gunners close the gap to league-leaders Chelsea back to just one point.
Wenger's side made a great start as Sunderland failed to pressurise their opponents and Giroud took full advantage.
Having controlled possession from kick-off, Arsenal found a gap in the visitors' defence when Jack Wilshere played a one-two with Rosicky on the edge of the area before squaring the ball to Giroud, who made no mistake to register his 11th league goal of the season.
Rosicky and Lukas Podolski then both went close before a dominant Arsenal doubled their lead.
And Sunderland gifted their hosts the goal as Vergini, making his first league start, failed to spot Giroud when making a backpass to Mannone. The Frenchman gratefully intercepted and rolled the ball into the net.
With three minutes of the first half remaining, Arsenal got the third goal that their play deserved as Rosicky completed a fine passing move with his first goal of the season. The Czech midfielder exchanged passes with Wilshere and Giroud and calmly lifted the ball over Mannone when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The introduction of Sebastian Larsson and Giaccherini at the break sparked Sunderland into life but, despite their increased attacking intent, they struggled to test Wojciech Szczesny.
And any hopes of a shock comeback were ended in the 57th minute when Koscielny evaded the attention of Phil Bardsley to meet a Santi Cazorla corner and emphatically head home his first goal of the campaign.
Szczesny got down well to deny Ki Sung-Yueng in the 70th minute after Larsson had headed across goal but the goalkeeper was unable to do anything about Giaccherini’s low shot with nine minutes to play.
The Italian controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired through a crowd of players to score the first goal against Arsenal in league matches at the Emirates for 537 minutes. But the day belonged to the Gunners.