SUNDERLAND manager Paolo di Canio was banished from the touchline as Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey upstaged new team-mate and club record signing Mesut Ozil with a fine double strike.
Di Canio was sent off in injury time, having had to watch Wales international Ramsey blast home a 67th-minute volley and then convert Olivier Giroud’s pass nine minutes later to kill off the resurgent Black Cats.
The home side were left fuming after having what they believed was a legitimate equaliser chalked off, when Arsenal’s lead was only 2-1. Three minutes after Ramsey, pictured below right, had put the visitors ahead for the second time, striker Jozy Altidore outmuscled Gunners skipper Bacary Sagna as the defender attempted to wrestle him off the ball. The powerhouse United States international then stabbed the ball past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and over the line. Referee Martin Atkinson had already blown for a foul and called play back, much to the fury of the home fans.
Ozil’s virtuoso first-half performance was a thing of beauty, the £43 million German setting up Giroud to give Arsenal an 11th-minute lead and creating two gilt-edged chances for Theo Walcott, both of which went begging.
But the Black Cats, for whom central defender Modibo Diakite hit the bar three minutes after Giroud’s strike, staged an impressive revival after the break.
They levelled within four minutes of the restart when half-time substitute Craig Gardner converted from the penalty spot after Adam Johnson had been tripped by Laurent Koscielny.
Former Real Madrid man Ozil was always likely to be at the centre of attention, and he responded in the best possible way by producing a first-half display which fully justified Arsenal’s investment.
The German’s talent shone through when he killed Kieran Gibbs’ lofted ball down the left in an instant and just as swiftly rolled a cross into the path of Giroud, left, who swept it past goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
Di Canio looked to provide his defence with greater protection when he replaced David Vaughan with Gardner at the break, and the newcomer was to make an unexpectedly early impact. Koscielny was adjudged to have tripped skipper-for-the-day Johnson in the box after the visitors failed to deal fully with a corner and Gardner sent Szczesny the wrong way from the spot to level. Suddenly, Sunderland looked a completely different proposition as they took the game to the visitors, Steven Fletcher seeing a 59th-minute effort ruled out for offside and then Gardner hitting the post with a free-kick.
But Arsenal managed to re-group and regained the lead with 23 minutes remaining when Carl Jenkinson crossed from the right for Ramsey to smash in a volley.
The Black Cats thought they had clawed their way back into it once again with 20 minutes remaining courtesy of Altidore’s disallowed strike, but Ramsey rubbed salt into the wounds six minutes later when he made the most of the link-up between Ozil and Giroud to cement the win.