The points were shared at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. For the second week running Arsenal came unstuck from a goal of the season contending wonderstrike, but a last gasp headed goal from Cesc Fabregas ensured the Gunners would not be out of the title race after only seven games.
Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal
Arsenal though marched on to a 3-2 victory that day, and the three points signified their tenth win (in all competitions), on the spin. What they would do for that consistency now.
Arsenal are erratic. Losing 1-0 to Fulham at the Craven Cottage: looking forlorn; disjointed; and uninterested. Then beating teams like Newcastle; Bolton; and Blackburn by a convincing margin, only to get turned over by Hull at home.
Even Clichy confirmed that Arsenal were guilty of not taking their opponent seriously; an arrogance that could prove costly.
Roy Keane's mackems are a bolstered prospect one year on, and have the comfort of playing in front of a home crowd. Depending on the Arsenal that turn up, the Black Cats could strut away, roaring into the distance, ecstatic with all three points... or they could limp off the pitch, defeated, dejected, with their tails between their legs.
It was a typical northern encounter on Wearside as wet and windy conditions had a direct effect on the afternoon's play as both teams took a while feeling each other out and there were a few scrappy exchanges throughout the first ten minutes, but nothing penetrative.
Roy Keane would have been the more contented of managers with the early manner of his side's play and Djibril Cisse was unfortunate not to have taken the lead.
A poor Theo Walcott back pass was pounced on by Cisse but alert Manuel Almunia was quick to foil the threat. Two minutes later Cisse was again on the attack and lashed a ball goalward but Arsenal's Spanish stopper beat the ball over the bar.
When Arsenal were in possession Sunderland sat back and soaked up the pressure, standing off their man but snuffing out any potential threat. Roy Keane has clearly taken heed of Phil Brown's successful tactic last weekend when the Tigers left the Emirates with all three points.
The chances Arsenal do make though were spoilt by either wayward shooting, or poor decision making, and Theo Walcott was at the heart of both mistakes.
The visitors went into the break with the greater share of possession, and a late strike from Denilson that skipped inches wide of the post could have stolen a lead for the Gunners, but as half-time crept closer the scoreline remained deadlocked.
The first 15 minutes of the second half maintained the motif of the first half as Arsenal's passing play was frustratingly spoiled by misplaced final balls.
Theo Walcott, who was largely ineffective all game, was replaced by big Danish centre forward Nicklas Bendtner as Arsene Wenger tried to force the game.
Arsenal had the ball in the net on the hour mark as Theo Walcott sent a ball into the six yard box that Van Persie finished off, but the goal was struck off the record as Walcott was deemed to have taken the ball into touch prior to his cross.
Inside the final 20 minutes though a goal seemed increasingly likely as both sides threw more forward when attacking. Samir Nasri could have broken the stalemate after some sound combining play from Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas fed through the former Marseille midfielder, but the Frenchman's shot was too weak to trouble Craig Gordon.
Against all the predictions Sunderland took the lead from a powerful Grant Leadbitter shot and Arsenal conceded a second wonder-strike for the second week running.
The Gunners saved face though, and ensure the points were shared, when a Van Persie corner was headed home by a delighted Cesc Fabregas three minutes deep into stoppage time.
Sunderland: Gordon - McCartney; Ferdinand; Collins; Chimbonda - Yorke - Malbranque; Richardson; Reid; Whitehead - Cisse.
Arsenal: Almunia - Clichy; Gallas; Toure; Sagna - Fabregas; Denilson; Song; Walcott - Adebayor; van Persie.