Olivier Giroud Theo Walcott Arsene Wenger Arsenal
Olivier Giroud scored the winner while Theo Walcott returned from injury for Arsenal in their English Premier League game against SunderlandReuters

Olivier Giroud looked absolutely distraught when a sliced clearance from him ended up in the back of his own net right on the stroke of halftime. However, like a true trooper, Giroud swatted away that bad moment and headed home the winner that won Arsenal the game against Sunderland 3-1 and also took them to second place in the English Premier League.

Sam Allardyce, during his Bolton days, had a habit of picking up points against Arsenal, and it looked like it might be another one of those days when the Black Cats went into halftime at 1-1, after the Giroud own goal cancelled out an opening strike from Joel Campbell.

That goal, even if it was fortuitous, was more that deserved as well as Sunderland gave as good as they got, hitting Arsenal on the counter-attack time and again, and forcing a fair few saves off Petr Cech. The first one of those was to deny Fabio Borini in the opening moments of the game, after the Italian failed to find his way past the Arsenal goalkeeper from a one-on-one situation.

Arsenal, expectedly, has the bulk of possession, but failed to really test Costel Pantilimon, until the 33rd minute, when a perfectly weighted through ball from Mesut Ozil found Campbell, who made no mistake with the finish.

The home team, though, would not go into the break 1-0 up as Giroud made a hash of a clearance off a Sunderland freekick to send the ball into his own top corner.

Arsenal, without their key playmaker Santi Cazorla and main man Alexis Sanchez, needed to play better in the second half, and even if they did take more time than the crowd would have liked, they did that, finally breaking through the five-man defence of Sunderland with a beautifully incisive move just past the hour mark.

A ping and a pong of passes led to Ramsey firing in a cross across goal, with Giroud getting in ahead of Younes Kaboul, faultless until then, to head home. The Frenchman could have had a second soon after as well, had De Andre Yedlin not cleared his header from a corner off the line.

Sunderland threw a fair bit of attacking weight in the final 20 minutes, but Arsenal, who saw the return of Theo Walcott from injury, stuck to their task, with Aaron Ramsey scoring right at the death to add the icing.

Other results: Stoke City 2-0 Manchester City; Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa; Swansea City 0-3 Leicester City; Watford 2-0 Norwich City; West Brom 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur; Manchester United 0-0 West Ham United.

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