The Costa Rica forward hasn’t always looked the part for the Gunners, but against the Black Cats—alternating with Ozil in the No. 10 role—he shone, and after looking like Arsenal’s most dangerous player, finally found the net on 33 minutes.
However, Arsenal—after a recent run of underwhelming form—were unable to hold onto their lead.
They were pegged back on the stroke of half time when Olivier Giroud deflected a free kick from the visitors past Petr Cech.
Watch the Giroud own goal as Sunderland equalise vs. Arsenal
The goal was no less than Sunderland deserved, with Sam Allardyce’s outfit demonstrating their tenacity and their dynamism during an entertaining first half.
Arsenal headed into the match looking to return to winning ways following last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw away at strugglers Norwich City. The Gunners haven’t won since gameweek 11, when they bested Swansea City 3-0 away from home, and could only follow that up with a draw away at Tottenham Hotspur and a miserable 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Arsenal have lost momentum partly due to a devastating succession of injuries, and Arsene Wenger had to deal with a considerable injury list ahead of the trip to Sunderland.
Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott were both doubtful, while Mikel Arteta, Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla were all definite absentees.
The list includes five potential central-midfield options for Wenger—notably anchor man Francis Coquelin—and it was intriguing to see how the French coach opted to compensate for the loss of his sole key defensive-midfield operator.
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From Sunderland’s point of view, the key loss ahead of the game was Jermain Defoe, who is still to make his comeback after injuring himself after scoring in the recent 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Regardless of Defoe’s absence, Sunderland are a different animal under Allardyce—an old rival of Wenger’s—who has given the Black Cats the belief and resiliency they required to escape the relegation zone.