FA Cup holders Arsenal came from behind to record a comfortable third-round win against Premier League strugglers Sunderland at Emirates Stadium. The visitors took a surprise lead when Jeremain Lens struck inside the box. Arsenal equalised through Joel Campbell’s half-volley, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the woodwork. Substitute Aaron Ramsey tapped in late on to put Arsenal ahead before Olivier Giroud’s close-range finish wrapped up a 13th consecutive win in the FA Cup. Arsenal, who beat Aston Villa 4-0 in last season’s final, have won the FA Cup 12 times – more than any other side. Six of those have come under Arsene Wenger, who will become the competition’s most successful manager with one more victory.
Arsenal may be top of the Premier League, but Wenger underlined his intention to take the FA Cup seriously by naming a strong side, with first-team regulars Petr Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud and Theo Walcott all included. It was a decision that paid off. After Sunderland’s unexpected opener, Walcott provided the assist for Arsenal’s equaliser and Hector Bellerin played a key role in their next two goals as the hosts’ experienced men carried them forward while the visitors’ mix of fringe and youth players wilted. Lens took advantage of some uncharacteristic hesitancy in the Gunners’ defence to score. That was only Lens’ third goal in 17 appearances for Sunderland, but his overall play will have been encouraging for Black Cats fans as his pace and physical presence caused the hosts a number of problems.
Arsenal have not lost an FA Cup tie in 13 games since Blackburn beat them 1-0 in February 2013 at the Emirates in the fifth round. No manager has won the FA Cup more times than Arsene Wenger (six). His first game in the competition was against Sunderland in the third round in 1997. Arsenal have not been defeated in the third round since losing a replay to Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane in January 1996 (W18 D5).