TEN-MAN Arsenal held on for three points at Sunderland after Santi Cazorla scored the only goal in an exciting game at the Stadium of Light.
Cazorla struck in the first half to seal the victory for Arsene Wenger’s side, but Sunderland came agonisingly close to drawing level after Carl Jenkinson’s red card had left the Gunners short.
Both sides started brightly with Sessegnon heading over from Gardner’s cross, while Theo Walcott forced two great saved from Simon Mignolet.
The Black Cats keeper was called into action again moments later and O’Neill’s side had their Belgian keeper to thank when he pulled of a brilliant save to deny Aaron Ramsey after a mouth-watering passing move from the visitors.
Sunderland rarely had the ball in the opening 35 minutes with Wenger’s men dominating possession and playing some beautiful passing football.
It was a joy to watch and 36 minutes in the Gunners deservedly broke the deadlock after a lovely move.
Wilshere played in a brilliant ball to Walcott on the edge of the area and he turned before laying off the ball for Santi Cazorla, who scored with a low, hard first-time shot.
The hosts could easily have gone in three down at the break, but Mignolet’s heroics meant his side started the second half still in the game.
The second half started better for the Black Cats and they were boosted by the departure of Wilshere, who hobbled off on 50 minutes.
The midfielder’s loss seemed to knock the wind out of Arsenal’s sails and the Black Cats pressed forward in a bid to draw level.
The lively Sessegnon dispossessed Ramey and played in Fletcher, but the striker could only blast his shot at the side netting.
The Gunners suffered another blow when Carl Jenkinson was sent off for a second yellow after a rash challenge on Sessegnon down the left.
It left the visitors hanging on with half an hour left to play, but they still managed to create chances with Santi Cazorla shooting wide and a Diaby shot saved by Mignolet.
The Gunners came agonisingly close to getting a second, but Walcott hit the post after a superb through-ball from Cazorla.
Mignolet had undoubtedly kept Sunderland in with a chance of getting something out of the game, but his opposite number, Szczesny, pulled off arguably the save of the game to deny Fletcher.
Titus Bramble had a late chance to draw Sunderland level, but the Gunners held on for the three points.