Arsenal fight back to overcome Sunderland in FA Cup
16:53 09 January 2016
Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1
FA Cup holders Arsenal came from behind to see off Sunderland at the Emirates and seal their place in the fourth round.
The Wearsiders took a shock 17th-minute lead through Jeremain Lens, but Joel Campbell grabbed the equaliser and two second-half goals in the space of five minutes, from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, settled the tie.
The first opening of the game fell to Lens, who held off Hector Bellerin and drilled just wide, but Sunderland were indebted to an impressive stop from rookie goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to keep them on level terms.
Kieran Gibbs burst into the penalty area to meet Giroud’s lay-off with a powerful strike that Pickford turned over the crossbar, with Calum Chambers heading wide from the corner.
However, Arsenal were caught out on 17 minutes when they failed to halt Duncan Watmore’s run and Lens seized on a slip by Laurent Koscielny to fire the ball past a startled Petr Cech.
The Gunners’ response was a positive one, though, and they levelled nine minutes later as Theo Walcott turned and cut the ball back with precision for the onrushing Campbell, who slotted first time into the far corner.
Pickford was alert to deny Walcott soon afterwards as Arsenal tried to ride the momentum of their equaliser, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi also went close before the break.
The lively Iwobi had a shot saved by Pickford soon after the restart and Oxlade-Chamberlain was unfortunate to rattle the post with a drive from the edge of the penalty area.
But the Black Cats should arguably have regained the lead just before the hour mark when Steven Fletcher headed DeAndre Yedlin’s cross against the bar and Watmore scooped the rebound over from close range.
Gibbs began to find some space going forward and set up two chances in quick succession, but Giroud was unable to connect with the first and the second found Walcott, who sidefooted it tamely at Pickford.
Arsenal finally edged in front with 18 minutes remaining as Bellerin played a neat one-two with Campbell and sent in a low cross for Ramsey – who had only been on the field for five minutes – to stab home.
And the tie was made safe four minutes later, with Bellerin supplying the assist again as he raced onto Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass and crossed for Giroud to find the net.
Giroud – who had what looked a strong penalty appeal against Patrick van Aanholt rejected – might have added another goal late on, but his header was tipped over by Pickford.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs; Chambers (Arteta 67); Campbell (Reine-Adelaide 81), Iwobi (Ramsey 67), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott; Giroud.