Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1: what we predicted and how it panned out
13:24 11 January 2016
What we predicted
Given Sunderland’s perilous league position and Sam Allardyce’s track record in FA Cup selection, we didn’t anticipate many problems for the Gunners and went for a 4-1 home win.
Rather like their north-east neighbours a week earlier, Sunderland started well at the Emirates and snatched the lead on 17 minutes when Kieran Gibbs played Laurent Koscielny into trouble and Jeremain Lens relieved him of the ball before rifling it past Petr Cech.
Arsenal responded quickly, levelling nine minutes later as Theo Walcott galloped down the left and cut the ball back beautifully for Joel Campbell to sweep into the bottom corner of the net.
Some fine saves from young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford thwarted the home side, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the post – although Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher also struck the woodwork with a header on the hour mark.
The Gunners capitalised on that let-off as Aaron Ramsey, who had only just come on as a substitute, put them in front with a low finish following a crisp interchange between Campbell and Hector Bellerin.
And Bellerin also supplied the cross that enabled Olivier Giroud to tuck away Arsenal’s third soon afterwards and kill off the tie – completing the trio who had also scored in their 3-1 league win against the Wearsiders a few weeks ago.
Buy him a pint
Teenager Alex Iwobi performed well on his first competitive start at the Emirates, displaying plenty of energy and good passing technique, while Bellerin’s pace and crossing ability ultimately proved essential.
However, we felt Campbell stood out. The Costa Rican’s equaliser ensured that he and his team-mates settled down and grew in confidence and his return ball for Bellerin was a key element in the second goal as well.
Get your coat son
Gibbs, rather than Koscielny, deserves the blame for Sunderland’s goal – but the left-back redeemed himself with a series of productive raids into the visitors’ half as the game went on.
Reluctantly, we have to give this to Oxlade-Chamberlain. His pass to set up Bellerin for Arsenal’s third goal was exquisite – but it was something of an exception to the numerous balls that went astray the rest of the time.
Arsenal’s first goal – superb vision by Walcott and a clinical first-time finish from Campbell.