Match ends, Sunderland 1, Arsenal 4.
Arsenal increased the pressure on Sunderland manager David Moyes with a comfortable victory over a Black Cats side who remain bottom of the table and without a Premier League win this season.
Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners ahead when he got in front of defender Lamine Kone to head in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross.
The dominant visitors had a strong penalty appeal turned down after Sanchez looked to have been brought down before Jermain Defoe equalised from the spot after keeper Petr Cech had fouled Duncan Watmore.
However, Arsenal reasserted their authority and lead with three goals in six minutes and 20 seconds.
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to guide in a shot and then headed in a Mesut Ozil corner, while Sanchez's close range effort was the signal for the home fans to start streaming out of the Stadium of Light.
The win moved Arsenal top of the Premier League - but Manchester City's victory over West Brom later in the day knocked them off the summit.
Arsenal players deliver for Wenger
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wanted a win in the early Saturday game to put pressure on his side's rivals and his players duly delivered.
The Gunners were missing the in-form Theo Walcott, but Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored twice in the midweek EFL Cup win over Reading, competently filled the void.
He provided the cross for Sanchez, starting up front instead of Giroud, to head in the opener and the England midfielder has now been involved in seven goals in his past eight games in all competitions, with four goals and three assists.
Ozil had a chip saved when clean through and the Gunners were punished for failing to turn their dominance into further goals when Defoe equalised.
However, Arsenal regrouped and recovered with a late burst of goals and are unbeaten in 14 matches.
Giroud announces return with double
Arsenal were still smarting from referee Martin Atkinson not awarding them a penalty for Kone appearing to pull back Sanchez when Defoe gave Sunderland hope.
Wenger sent on Giroud, who was playing his first league game since 24 September following a toe injury, and he scored with his first two touches of the game.
"I have been lucky today, I had great assists from my team-mates," said France striker Giroud, who has scored seven goals in his last seven appearances against Sunderland in all competitions.
"It is a big time for me coming back from a tough injury and I'm very happy to be back on the pitch."
Sunderland struggles continue
The latest defeat for Sunderland means they have made the worst ever start to a Premier League season, with just two points from 10 games.
Their fans might have feared the worst going into a game - and any concerns did not take long to be realised as centre-back Kone was caught on his heels for the opener, the sixth headed goal the Black Cats have conceded in the league this season.
That tally went to seven following Giroud's goal later on and the defending of Sunderland, who were using a seventh different back four combination under Moyes this season, left plenty to be desired.
Even when Defoe scored with the hosts' first shot on target, they failed to show the security in defence to build on that lifeline.
They had plenty of support with 44,322 at the Stadium of Light, but their capitulation left swathes of empty seats at the final whistle.
Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy said: "Sunderland got so deep, I couldn't believe what was going on.
"It was as if it didn't matter. This is a team that are supposed to be battling to stay in this league even this early in the season, but if they continue to play this deep, with this much fear, then they have got no chance."
Man of the match - Alexis Sanchez
Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer said: "Arsenal are a better team with Alexis Sanchez as a centre forward. He was superb, he ran the Sunderland defence ragged. They did not have a clue how to deal with him."
What they said
Sunderland manager David Moyes: "Once we get one or two of the injured players back, that will give us some more options and that will give us a better chance.
"The message is the players are giving everything they can. It was not through the lack of effort, or the lack of trying - they played a team with a lot of quality.
"We are not in a good position and need to play better. The players are doing their best, but you will only ever be judged by your results."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "It was a mental test when we were at 1-1. We missed so many chances, so many opportunities, and I was worried we could lose - but we have shown great strength to bounce back.
"In the Premier League at 1-1 you can lose the game but it was about how we responded. Do we panic, give up, feel sorry for ourselves? We responded well and in the end it was a comfortable win.
"It was an important result for us. We had six wins, then one draw at home, which was disappointing, and a second draw or defeat would have been like we had dropped our level."
On his introduction of Giroud, who then scored twice in the next seven minutes, Wenger added: "The manager has an easy credit when he has quality players on the bench and you don't need to be a special manager to make this decision. It was 1-1 and we had Giroud on the bench."
The stats you need to know
- Sunderland have managed just two points from their opening 10 games (goal difference -13), the worst start ever to a Premier League season (Manchester City also had two points in 1995-96 but had a superior goal difference).
- This is Sunderland's worst start to a league season after 10 games in any division.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their past 20 top-flight games (12 wins and seven draws)
- Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in eight goals in his past eight Premier League appearances (five goals, three assists).
Arsenal travel to Bulgaria to play Ludogorets Razgrad in a Champions League group game on Tuesday at 19:45 GMT before hosting north London rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on 6 November (12:00 kick-off).
Sunderland are at Bournemouth in the Premier League at 15:00 on 5 November.
- 16O'SheaSubstituted forDjilobodjiat 42'minutesBooked at 48mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 10KhazriBooked at 30mins
- 17NdongBooked at 33mins
- 20PienaarBooked at 41minsSubstituted forJanuzajat 70'minutes
- 14WatmoreSubstituted forGoochat 84'minutes
- 12Simões Domingues
- 33CechBooked at 64mins
- 3GibbsBooked at 80mins
- 34CoquelinSubstituted forMaitland-Nilesat 89'minutes
- 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forRamseyat 77'minutes
- 17IwobiSubstituted forGiroudat 69'minutes
- 7SánchezBooked at 66mins
- Martin Atkinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Sunderland 1, Arsenal 4.
Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Foul by Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal).
Adnan Januzaj (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jack Rodwell.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jack Rodwell.
Substitution, Arsenal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaces Francis Coquelin.
Offside, Sunderland. Patrick van Aanholt tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland) because of an injury.
Substitution, Sunderland. Lynden Gooch replaces Duncan Watmore.
Foul by Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).
Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).
Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Sunderland 1, Arsenal 4. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.
Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.