Arsenal needed the power of Olivier Giroud and the injustice of a terrible refereeing display from Martin Atkinson to see off Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime.
Running out comfortable winners thanks to a brace from both Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, the Gunners had looked like they were going to blow things by being wasteful in front of goal and failing to reinforce their on-pitch dominance on the scoreboard.
Taking a one goal lead in to the break, Arsenal could have been three or four up had Mesut Ozil brought his shooting boots with him, but they had to settle for a solitary Alexis goal for 45 minutes of high-pressing football that really highlighted how much trouble Sunderland are in this season.
And what a goal it was. 22 passes in all.
By the break, Sunderland would have been considering themselves fortunate to not only be a just a single goal down, but to also have a full team on the pitch. Inexplicably, Atkinson failed to book Steven Pienaar for a clear yellow-offence (that he booked a teammate for just moments later). This left him free to commit another poor tackle that did see him go into the book.
Atkinson was only getting started.
Sunderland were stronger in the second half, for a while at least, but despite Arsenal’s wastefulness continuing, Alexis should have won a penalty. He was quite clearly pulled to the ground – how else do you explain him falling backwards when he was running forward? – but the ref gave nothing, perhaps due to his own poor positioning.
Just minutes later, with Alexis still incensed, he pointed to the spot for Sunderland after Cech barrelled their player to the ground. Defoe made no mistake from the spot, while Atkinson booked Alexis for complaining about a decision the ref had got 100% wrong.
Action from the bench saw Olivier Giroud replace Alex Iwobi and with his first touch he gave Arsenal the lead again
And then he struck again a few minutes later
Alexis, who had been on fire all game, made sure with his second and Arsenal’s fourth
Atkinson had clearly p**sed the Arsenal players off and they responded.
In previous seasons, this was the type of game that would have went badly wrong for Arsenal.
As it stands, we’re unbeaten in 13 in all competitions, unbeaten against Sunderland in 26 matches, and top of the table.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and keep an eye out for our extensive post-match coverage and match analysis on-site over the next 36 hours.