Arsene Wenger continued his amazing run of never losing a third round tie in the FA Cup by beating Sunderland to progress in the competition the Gunners are looking to win for the third year in a row – and be the first side to do so since 1886.

Expecting changes to the starting lineup, the biggest surprise was the absence of David Ospina who apparently picked up a groin injury ahead of the game with rumours that Besiktas had reps in the crowd to scout him.

The game was lively with both sides showing a willingness to go for it from the kick-off but it was Arsenal who looked the most dangerous, Kieran Gibbs forcing youngster Jordan Pickford into a splendid save with just nine minutes on the clock.

Arsenal were playing with tempo and looking to hunt in packs to close the ball down, a strategy that was unsettling for Sunderland who had certainly not come to the Emirates to defend, rather to have a go – a risky strategy for any team against a free-flowing Arsene Wenger side but it paid off with just 17 minutes gone.

Gibbs played captain for the day, Laurent Koscielny, into all sorts of problems on the edge of the box and he had his pocket picked by Jermain Lens who rifled it home past Petr Cech.

Jeremain Lens Scoring against Arsenal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match bewtween Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on January 9, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Jeremain Lens Scoring against Arsenal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match bewtween Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on January 9, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Arsenal looked to respond immediately and a mazy run from the impressive Alex Iwobi bamboozled the Black Cats defence, but his shot was saved by Pickford.

And it was Iwobi again who played a part in Arsenal’s equaliser. Playing in Theo Walcott, the forward pulled it back for Joel Campbell to slam home an effort that he could have quite easily blazed over the bar.

Joel Campbell celebrates scoring their first goal during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2016. AFP PHOTO / GLYK KIRK
Joel Campbell celebrates scoring their first goal during the English FA Cup third-round football match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2016. AFP PHOTO / GLYK KIRK

1-1 at the break and it was a real cup tie with not a bus in sight.

Arsenal started the second half strongly while Sunderland settled into a more familiar role of sitting deep while looking to hit on the break.

Campbell was delivering great crosses into the box and fighting for everything while, on the flipside, Olivier Giroud was playing like a man who expected to be rested and it was Campbell who came closest to giving Arsenal the lead as he latched on to a delightful through ball from Iwobi. His dink across the face of the goal, however, was to no-one as no Arsenal forward was anywhere near the six yard box.

The post then denied the Ox who hit from range after twisting and turning outside the box looking for a pass that never appeared and while Theo was able to get on the rebound, his effort went wide.

Just moments later the woodwork came to Arsenal’s rescue, denying Steven Fletcher who rose above Gabriel only to see his header smack the bar before it was Arsenal’s turn again to come close to breaking the deadlock, Campbell being denied by Pickford from close range.

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Iwobi and Chambers were replaced by Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey with 24 minutes remaining, both receiving hearty applause from the home support for stellar performances and Ramsey’s impact was almost immediate as he played in Gibbs who crossed for Giroud who could have found the back of the net. But didn’t.

Ramsey did find the back of the net not long after, however, as he got on the end of a simply sublime Arsenal move. A delightful ball played in behind from Campbell to Bellerin was pulled back for the Welshman to sidefoot in from close range and Arsenal finally had the lead.

It was Ramsey’s first goal in the FA Cup since his winner against Hull in the final in 2014.

Bellerin then grabbed another assist as he played in Giroud for a tap in a few minutes later. The Frenchman, who had done little all afternoon, was presented with a perfectly weighted pass that he could do nothing but score with. It was game over.

Arsenal were denied the chance to make it four when Giroud was denied a stonewall penalty as Martin Atkinson waved his claims away, the only person on the planet who didn’t think the Handsome one was fouled in the box.

With ten minutes left it was time for The Jeff as Jeff Reine-Adelaide replaced the impressive Joel Campbell, the youngster’s arrival greeted with as much excitement as another goal but that was to be the last action of note in what was a gripping cup tie.

From a goal down, the Gunners showed great mettle to come back so strongly and, in the end, the result was never in doubt.

Into the hat we go and we’ll have the draw for you as it happens on Monday evening (approx 7.15pm UK)