Olivier Giroud marked his return to action with two goals as Arsenal swept aside lowly Sunderland to stay a point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

He stroked home an early opener after a deflected Jack Wilshere shot fell to him, and capitalised on a poor Santiago Vergini back-pass for his second.

Tomas Rosicky finished a neat move and Laurent Koscielny headed a fourth.

Wenger praises Giroud's 'character'

Emanuele Giaccherini produced a stunning late volley to end Arsenal's run of five home league clean sheets.

Giroud had sat out the Gunners' previous two games, with manager Arsene Wenger insisting the French striker needed a rest.

But he looked thoroughly refreshed as he tormented a Sunderland team with one eye on their Capital One Cup final appearance next week.

Even without the injured Mesut Ozil, who shone on his debut in Arsenal's win at the Stadium of Light in September, Arsenal were rarely troubled by Gus Poyet's team.

They produced the perfect response to their midweek Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich and showed few ill effects of playing half of that match with 10 men.

In fact, the Black Cats had barely touched the ball when Arsenal grabbed a fifth-minute lead as Giroud ended a run of four games without a goal.

Lukas Podolski and Rosicky were involved in the build-up, allowing Wilshere to drive into the box, where his shot hit Phil Bardsley. When the ball rolled to Giroud, the Frenchman reacted quickly to drill a low shot past Vito Mannone.

Mannone, back at the Emirates for the first time since his summer move north, was left helpless when Vergini gifted the Gunners a second.

Analysis

Arsenal return to winning ways and do so by winning in style. Sunderland now have a Capital One Cup final to look forward to but this game was all about Arsenal and what we have learned is that they are not going anywhere in this title race.

Making his first Premier League start, the Argentine central defender failed to notice Giroud lingering in the box when he attempted to pass back to his keeper and the Gunners striker clinically slid the ball past the exasperated keeper.

There was further pain for Mannone just before half-time as Rosicky sealed a wonderful Arsenal passing move with a close-range finish.

The midfielder took return passes from Wilshere and Santi Cazorla before finding Giroud in the box and running on to the forward's cute pass to clip the ball over the keeper.

Vergini's nightmare day nearly got worse when he sliced a Bacary Sagna cross just past his own post.

But from the resulting corner Koscielny got away from Bardsley and planted home a free header from eight yards out.

With victory assured, Arsenal eased off and Sunderland came into the game.

Ki Sung-Yeung forced a superb save from Wojciech Szczesny, but the Pole could do little to keep out Giaccherini's strike.

Having punched away a corner, the keeper must have thought he had cleared the danger but Giaccherini fired a low volley just inside the post.

It did no more than spoil Arsenal's run of clean sheets though.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:

"After playing for so long with 10 men in a difficult game in midweek against Bayern Munich it was good to win today. The three points are welcome.

"Tomas Rosicky's goal was one of the best [we have scored] and one of the two Olivier Giroud goals is a great goal. That is the way we want to play and when we score it makes you happy because it enforces the way you want to play.

"We are still there in the table. It is down to consistency and our performances. It was important to win the game. We lost to Liverpool and drew with Manchester United. We needed to win this game."

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet:

"The combination of Arsenal playing well and us being poor on the ball made it difficult for us.

"We needed to be organised and see the danger but they punished us. Then we made a mistake for the second goal, which we never make, and that made it tough.

"Wembley could have been on the players' minds but this was a very good wake-up call. If we play like this against Manchester City we could be embarrassed."

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Arsenal

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna
  • 17 Monreal (Jenkinson - 45' )
  • 10 Wilshere
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 06 Koscielny (Flamini - 67' )
  • 19 Cazorla
  • 08 Arteta
  • 12 Giroud
  • 07 Rosicky (Gnabry - 73' )
  • 09 Podolski

Substitutes

  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 20 Flamini
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 22 Sanogo
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 44 Gnabry

Sunderland

  • 25 Mannone
  • 02 Bardsley
  • 28 Alonso
  • 26 Bridcutt
  • 27 Vergini
  • 16 O'Shea
  • 11 Johnson (Larsson - 45' )
  • 04 Ki (Scocco - 73' )
  • 17 Altidore (Giaccherini - 45' Booked )
  • 14 Colback
  • 31 Borini

Substitutes

  • 07 Larsson
  • 08 Gardner
  • 12 Celustka
  • 23 Giaccherini
  • 24 Cuéllar
  • 30 Scocco
  • 32 Ustari
Ref: Andre Marriner
Att: 60,012

Match Stats

Shots

12 7

On target

9 3

Corners

7 3

Fouls

10 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Arsenal 4, Sunderland 1.

90:00 +2:58 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Arsenal 4, Sunderland 1.

87:12

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.

86:04

Foul by Mikel Arteta (Arsenal).

86:04

Jack Colback (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

85:30

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85:30

Foul by Marcos Alonso (Sunderland).

83:46

Attempt missed. Ignacio Scocco (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Marcos Alonso.

83:16

Attempt saved. Serge Gnabry (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mikel Arteta.

82:54

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

82:54

Foul by Ignacio Scocco (Sunderland).

82:05

Offside, Sunderland. Marcos Alonso tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.

80:40 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 4, Sunderland 1. Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner following a set piece situation.

80:01

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

80:01

Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

77:19

Attempt missed. Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right from a direct free kick.

76:03

Foul by Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal).

76:03

Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

76:00

Attempt blocked. Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

75:38

Attempt saved. Serge Gnabry (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Wilshere with a through ball.

72:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Serge Gnabry replaces Tomas Rosicky.

72:34 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Ignacio Scocco replaces Ki Sung-Yueng.

69:09

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:09

Foul by Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland).

69:01

Attempt saved. Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sebastian Larsson with a headed pass.

68:11

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

68:11

Jack Colback (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:20

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

66:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Mathieu Flamini replaces Laurent Koscielny because of an injury.

65:20

Delay in match Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) because of an injury.

64:45

Offside, Sunderland. Marcos Alonso tries a through ball, but Phil Bardsley is caught offside.

64:44

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sebastian Larsson with a cross following a set piece situation.

63:56

Foul by Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).

63:56

Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

61:32

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

61:32

Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).

56:14 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 4, Sunderland 0. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla with a cross following a corner.

55:42

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Santiago Vergini.

53:08

Offside, Sunderland. Marcos Alonso tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.

52:06 Booking

Booking Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

52:04

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

52:04

Foul by Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland).

50:11

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

49:09

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Wojciech Szczesny.

49:08

Attempt saved. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Sebastian Larsson.

47:38

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

47:38

Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:24

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:24

Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).

45:21

Foul by Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal).

45:21

Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00

Second Half begins Arsenal 3, Sunderland 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Carl Jenkinson replaces Nacho Monreal.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Sebastian Larsson replaces Adam Johnson.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Emanuele Giaccherini replaces Jozy Altidore.

45:00 +1:00 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Arsenal 3, Sunderland 0.

43:40

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:40

Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).

41:44 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 3, Sunderland 0. Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Olivier Giroud with a through ball.

39:04

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

39:04

Jack Colback (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

38:10

Foul by Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

38:10

Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

37:13

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

37:13

Foul by Marcos Alonso (Sunderland).

35:46

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.

35:44

Attempt blocked. Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mikel Arteta.

34:43

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

34:43

Foul by Santiago Vergini (Sunderland).

32:27

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jack Colback.

32:25

Attempt blocked. Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

31:43

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.

30:31 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 2, Sunderland 0. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner.

29:35

Attempt saved. Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.

23:18

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

22:40

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

22:40

Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

20:58

Attempt missed. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) header from the left side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla with a cross following a corner.

20:25

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Vito Mannone.

20:21

Attempt saved. Lukas Podolski (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

14:33

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.

14:02

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

14:02

Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).

11:13

Offside, Sunderland. Marcos Alonso tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.

10:05

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

9:15

Delay in match Fabio Borini (Sunderland) because of an injury.

8:27

Attempt saved. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

7:12

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:12

Foul by Fabio Borini (Sunderland).

4:28 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 1, Sunderland 0. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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