Photo: AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Olivier Giroud put his recent off-field problems to one side by marking his return
to the Arsenal
starting line-up with two first half goals as Arsene Wenger’s moved on from
their midweek Champions League disappointment with a routine win over a Sunderland
side apparently distracted by next Sunday’s Capital One cup final.
Giroud last week made a public apology to his family and club following
reports about his private life. The striker had started the Gunners’ last two
games – against Liverpool last Sunday and the midweek defeat to Bayern Munich
– on the bench although Arsene Wenger insisted the player was being rested,
Restored to the side, Giroud confirmed he was not distracted by his troubles,
putting Wenger’s side ahead after just five minutes and then confirming
their surperiority with a second in the 31st minute. Tomas Rosicky finished
an outstanding passage of one-touch football to effectively kill off the
game shortly before the break with Laurent Koscielny heading a fourth in the
The win, together with the quality of Arsenal’s first half display, helped the
Gunners draw a line under the difficult evening they had endured against
Bayern – Mesut Ozil was omitted from the squad after his much-criticised
display against the German champions – and with Chelsea having beaten
Everton earlier in the day, ensured they kept pace with Jose Mourinho’s side
and remain one point behind the Premier League leaders.
Gus Poyet, the Sunderland manager, had hoped to use this game as preparation
for his side’s meeting with Manchester City at Wembley next weekend. That
plan backfired with the Urugayan left facing more problems than he did
before kick-off although Emanuele Giaccherini did at least claim a
consolation nine minutes from time.
Giroud’s opening goal came after a surging run from Jack Wislhere while his second
was set up by a weak back-pass from Sunderland centre-back Santiago Vergini.
Rosicky’s chipped finish came after a slick passing move involving four
Arsenal players around the edge of the Sunderland area while Koscielny’s
free header from Santi Cazorla’s corner ensured Wenger’s side could cruise
through the final 35 minutes.
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