Arsenal’s troubled season took another turn for the worse after they were deservedly beaten by a rejuvenated Sunderland in the FA Cup fifth round.
Fourth in the Premier League and facing likely elimination in the Champions League, the Gunners are set for a seventh successive trophyless year. Kieran Richardson put Sunderland ahead with a deflected shot before half-time.
Arsenal pushed for an equaliser but Sebastian Larsson’s shot was put into his own net by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was an unfortunate moment for the 18-year-old, who was one of Arsenal’s more impressive performers on a dark day for the club.
Arsene Wenger will inevitably come under increased pressure but not for the first time this week he was badly let down by his players. Wenger demanded a response from them following Wednesday’s 4-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat by AC Milan – but he got nothing of the sort.
The 10-time winners were out-thought, out-fought and out-worked by two-time winners Sunderland, who avenged their league defeat by Arsenal a week previously and have won 10 of their 15 games under Martin O’Neill.
Wenger’s current team clearly lack the quality of previous squads and they will not be relishing next Sunday’s Premier League visit of high-flying local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
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