Feb 22, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
No Ozil, no problem.
It was never difficult for Arsenal, as the Premier League’s second-place team cruised to a 4-1 home win over relegation scrapping Sunderland.
“We had a very demanding week and we gave the right response today. We scored two great Arsenal goals,” Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. “”We showed today that we could respond [to the Bayern result].”
“I had no hesitation about his strength of character,” said Wenger. “He did well.”
Mesut Ozil was held out of the match for a “dead leg,” presumably the one that caused him to miss a penalty kick against Bayern Munich in Arsenal’s mid-week UEFA Champions League match.
Arsenal opened the match in Sunderland’s half and spent nearly three minutes working the ball around before the Black Cats sniffed possession.
It wasn’t long after that the Gunners capitalized as a pretty bit of passing between four players ended with a slick cross-area feed from Wilshere to Giroud for the Frenchman’s 11th of the season.
Sunderland found their first true chance in the 16th minute when Marcos Alonso slid the ball from the top of the 18 to Fabio Borini streaking down the left side, but Borini’s low shot (or cross) was collected by Szczesny.
The majority of moments through the first half hour belonged to Arsenal, though, as Vito Mannone was forced into duty on several occasions. If anyone asks, point to a Lukas Podolski blast from 25 yards out in the 21st minute as proof. Per Mertesacker‘s header on the ensuing corner led to nothing.
Argentine defender Santiago Vergini was largely responsible for Giroud’s second, as he attempted a back pass to Mannone and learned of a major problem: Giroud was in between the two Black Cats. The Frenchman coolly made it a brace and it was 2-0 to Arsenal.
Sunderland picked up another assist when Rosicky attempted a 1-2 with Giroud but the return ball came off a Sunderland back. The bloodbath at the Emirates was all red and it was 3-0 before half, as Arsenal celebrated the dedicated of a statue to Gunners and Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp.
“Rosicky’s goal is one of the best. It’s how we want to play and, when it’s successful, you’re happy,” Wenger quipped after the match. “Rosicky took the role of Bergkamp today.”
American forward Jozy Altidore was subbed off at halftime, and was virtually invisible in the first 45 minutes.
The second featured an early yellow card for Emanuele Giaccherini for a dirty move against Giroud.
The offense didn’t rest for Arsenal, or better put: the defense kept coming forward. Laurent Koscielny headed home a Santi Cazorla corner kick to make it 4-0 in the 57th minute. Koscielny left the match with an injury just under 10 minutes later.
Giaccherini ruined Szczesny’s clean sheet off a set piece in the 81st minute, as his low right footer headed left corner to make it 4-1.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Flamini, 67), Monreal (Jenkinson, 45), Arteta, Rosicky (Gnabry, 73), Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud
Goals: Giroud (5, 31), Rosicky (42), Koscielny (57)
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Ki (Scocco, 73), Johnson (Larsson, 45), Colback, O’Shea, Altidore (Giaccherini, 45), Bridcutt, Vergini, Alonso, Borini
Goal: Giaccherini (81)
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