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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 November 2005, 16:53 GMT
Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland
Van Persie fires Arsenal in front
Thierry Henry scored twice to fire Arsenal to a victory that moves them up to third in the table.

Robin van Persie scored the opener when he controlled a long ball from Sol Campbell before thumping home.

Van Persie set up the second by playing in Lauren, who crossed for Henry to sidefoot home from close range.

Sunderland threatened an upset when Alan Stubbs fired his first for the club before Henry finished off a sweeping move to seal the win.

Henry was passed fit to start the game despite a recent groin problem, while the Gunners were boosted by the return of Jens Lehmann in goal.

The Black Cats had conceded 12 goals in their previous four visits to Highbury and Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy surprisingly opted for inexperience.

Keeper Kelvin Davis, who took much of the blame for the 4-1 defeat to Portsmouth, was dropped to the bench with 18-year-old Ben Alnwick joining Daryl Murphy and Danny Collins in making their first Premiership starts.

The pattern of the game was clear from the start, with Sunderland playing a well-drilled but extremely dangerous looking offside trap.

Arsenal were happy to play a patient build-up, knowing the chances would surely come.

Jose Antonio Reyes should have put them ahead with their first chance in the seventh minute when he intercepted a weak pass and ran clear on goal only to shoot wide.

But it took just five more minutes for the Gunners to get the breakthough.

Campbell's long ball from deep inside Arsenal's half found Van Persie and with one touch he brilliantly controlled the ball on his chest and raced away from Stubbs before thumping the ball past Alnwick.

Sunderland briefly threatened when Murphy's corner eventually fell to Steve Caldwell at the back post, but when he squared the ball Andy Gray was unable to apply the finishing touch.

The Black Cats knew all about Van Persie's ability having seen it first hand in their recent League Cup game on Wearside, which Arsenal won 3-0.

The Dutchman delightfully instigated the second goal with an instinctive touch that played in a sprinting Lauren down the right and he produced an inch-perfect ball for Henry to sidefoot home, despite Stubbs getting a touch.

Arsenal increased their dominance after the break and when Henry flicked on to send Van Persie in the clear he should have done better with a chip over Alnwick that was well wide.

Henry was denied what would have been an astonishing goal even by his high standards when he teed himself up for a bicycle kick that hit the outside of the post.

Sunderland were given hope when Caldwell's header fell for Stubbs to add the finishing touch.

But Henry made sure of the three points when he collected a Cesc Fabregas pass, slipped the ball through Caldwell's legs and calmly beat Alnwick.

Substitute Dennis Bergkamp almost marked his 300th Premiership appearance with a fourth goal, but his shot was well kept out by Alnwick.

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
    "We played well but when they came back to 2-1 you never know.

    "We lost our concentration and our sharpness a bit. But straight away the team responded.

    "It looks like the team is back on track and focussed, the young players are coming on. Now we need to keep the run going."

  • Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy:
    "We gifted them a goal with a simple pass over the top. We were outplayed in all areas and outfought in the first half," he said after the 3-1 defeat.

    "I went with the fitter, fresher legs but we got well beaten.

    "In the second half we competed and had a go but it took some harsh words in the dressing room at half-time for that to happen."

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Clichy, Reyes (Eboue 65), Fabregas, Silva, Pires, Van Persie (Bergkamp 71), Henry.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Flamini, Senderos.

    Goals: Van Persie 12, Henry 36, 82.

    Sunderland: Alnwick, Stubbs, Breen, Caldwell, Nosworthy (Miller 62), Whitehead, Murphy, Robinson, Collins, Gray (Elliott 46), Stead (Le Tallec 46).
    Subs Not Used: Davis, Welsh.

    Booked: Breen.

    Goals: Stubbs 75.

    Att: 38,210.

    Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

    Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

    Interview: Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy

    Interview: Arsenal's Robin van Persie

    Interview: Arsenal's Thierry Henry


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