Sunderland vs. Arsenal: Final score 1-3 in the Aaron Ramsey show

Laurence Griffiths

Martin Atkinson didn't exactly cover himself in glory, making a refereeing decision that might have altered the outcome of the game, but Aaron Ramsey made sure it wasn't the only difference between Arsenal and Sunderland.

Arsenal are at least temporarily top of the table after their third straight league win. There was a bit of controversy thanks to the official, but the Gunners took their chances and earned a 3-1 win over Sunderland.

New Arsenal signing Mesut Özil had a massive influence on the match instantly, assisting Olivier Giroud to put the Gunners ahead in the 11th minute. Off a long pass down the left flank, he took the ball down brilliantly with his first touch, then played a pass into the box through the legs of Valentin Roberge with his second. Giroud made a perfect near post run and finished to score his fourth goal of the season.

Sunderland nearly hit back instantly. Some poor marking on a corner allowed Mobido Diakite to find an opening and meet the ball with a header from six yards, but he hit the top of the crossbar.

The next few minutes were frantic, though nothing came out of them. Özil set up Walcott with a through ball in the 15th minute to send him one-on-one with Kieran Westwood, but Walcott put his shot right into the Sunderland keeper's chest. Three minutes later, Jozy Altidore tested Wojciech Szczesny with a shot from 25 yards, forcing him to punch away. The rest of the half was less frantic, but Walcott did have another good chance to score for Arsenal, missing a header from close range off a cross by Jack Wilshere in the 43rd minute.

Sunderland started the half with some incredible intensity, pouring men forward into the Arsenal box, and won a penalty in the 48th minute. Laurent Koscielny slid in late and behind on Adam Johnson, catching the Sunderland winger's leg and none of the ball. Craig Gardner buried the ensuing penalty, leveling the score.

The Gunners looked a bit rattled immediately after that and Sunderland continued to look like the better side through the hour mark. The hosts had a goal disallowed in the 59th minute, at the end of a very nice move. Johnson turned Kieran Gibbs inside-out before playing a ball to the back post that was tapped in by Steven Fletcher, but the Sunderland striker was well offside when the ball was played in. Two minutes later, Craig Gardner curled in a free kick from the left flank that struck the post. It would have counted if it went in directly, but multiple Sunderland attackers were offside and play was whistled dead when they attempted to capitalize on the rebound.

Not long after that, the tide turned and Arsenal settled down, taking control of possession in the attacking half as they normally do. Once they started to play their game, it wasn't long before they were back on top. Aaron Ramsey restored the Gunners' lead in the 67th minute with a fabulous strike from just inside the penalty area, assisted by Carl Jenkinson, who found him with a low cutback pass. Ramsey took his shot on the half-volley perfectly, snapping a vicious shot past Westwood.

Altidore scored an equalizer for Sunderland in the 70th minute, but it was called back by Martin Atkinson following a serious error in judgment. He whistled for a foul on Bacary Sagna while Altidore was through on goal and still fighting off the Arsenal defender.

Sunderland wouldn't get a chance to score again and make up for that officiating error before Arsenal doubled their lead through a gorgeous piece of play in the 76th minute. Ramsey was the man behind the goal again, both starting the attack and finishing off the move. He played a pass to Özil before starting a run into the box and was found by Giroud with a through ball before he placed a gorgeous finish into the back of the net.

Through some combination of having no bench and wanting to shut things down at the end, Arsenal made a couple of defender-for-attacker subs and had no problem holding on to the 3-1 scoreline.

Sunderland: Westwood, Roberge, Diakite, Colback, Celustka, Johnson, Vaughan (Gardner 45'), Ki, Mavrias (Borini 71'), Altidore, Fletcher (Wickham 77')

Goals: None

Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Sagna, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Flamini, Wilshere, Özil (Vermaelen 80'), Walcott (Monreal 89') , Giroud (Akpom 90')

Goals: Giroud (11'), Ramsey (67', 76')

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