Joel Campbell and Hector Bellerin star as Arsenal beat Sunderland in FA Cup
Arsenal recovered from going a goal behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 and continue their quest to win a third successive FA Cup.
Defensive confusion between Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs led to the Gunners gifting an early goal to Jermaine Lens. But Arsene Wenger's team recovered well to put Sunderland to the sword, with Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud grabbing the goals. The key to Arsenal's victory came on the right flank, where Hector Bellerin and Campbell and were in an inspired mood.
Wenger will be delighted to have secured safe passage to the fourth round while affording a rest to the likes of Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Petr Cech, 7 -- A surprise starter after a late injury to David Ospina, Cech would have been furious with the poor defending which led to Sunderland's opener. Overall his presence was important as ever, with one close-range stop from Danny Graham particularly impressive.
DF Hector Bellerin, 8 -- It was a real shock to see Bellerin picked for this game after he played every game during the frantic festive period. However, with Mathieu Debuchy reportedly close to a move away from the club, Wenger seems unwilling to risk an injury to the France international. Nevertheless, Wenger will be glad he started the Spaniard. It was his run and cross that created Arsenal's decisive second for Ramsey. Then he raced to the byline once again to square for Giroud's goal.
DF Gabriel Paulista, 7 -- The Brazilian centre-half is close to completing his first year in north London and he now looks very comfortable in English football. While Wenger's preferred pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny is understandable, the Brazilian showed once again why he is right to expect more first-team football in 2016.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- The Frenchman would have hoped to celebrate being captain for the day with a faultless performance. However, he was directly implicated in the defensive chaos that led to Arsenal falling behind, failing to clear his lines after being put under pressure by an unwise Gibbs pass.
DF Kieran Gibbs, 6 -- It's been some time since Nacho Monreal superseded Gibbs in Wenger's preferred pecking order. Unfortunately for Gibbs, that decision seems unlikely to be reversed any time soon. Handed a rare opportunity to impress, the England full-back disappointed once again, playing a poor pass to Koscielny under pressure that led directly to Sunderland's goal.
MF Calum Chambers, 6 -- Although there were promising flashes of poise from Chambers in his new midfield role, he still has much to learn. His positioning is still suspect, and he can require too long on the ball. Once Elneny arrives to join the squad, it will be interesting to see if Chambers continues to develop in midfield or returns to the back four.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- This was a good day for a player who hasn't enjoyed many in 2015-16. Deployed in the central role that Wenger insists will eventually be his permanent position, Oxlade-Chamberlain grew into the game over the course of the 90 minutes. He showed good a good work rate, some impressive footwork and was unlucky not to score with a curled strike from distance which hit the post.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7 -- On his full first-team debut, Iwobi was certainly not short of confidence. Every time he got the ball, he looked to make things happen -- usually taking on his man with a jinking run. However, he showed a good range of passing, too. At one point a brilliant through-ball picked out Campbell, but his clipped shot was cleared away from goal.
FW Theo Walcott, 7 -- Walcott was relatively quiet until he burst into life to create Arsenal's equaliser, driving to the byline before cutting the ball back on his weaker left-foot. He probably ought to have scored on more than one occasion, but his finishing was somewhat wayward. He's still not much of a defender -- at one point, he was beaten far too easily by Deandre Yedlin but the eventual shot struck the bar.
FW Joel Campbell, 8 -- On a day when Arsenal rested many of their more senior players, it was interesting that it was Campbell who stepped up to the plate. He seized responsibility early, constantly driving infield and looking to take the game to the Black Cats. He took his goal well too, tucking Walcott's cross neatly in at the near post. He was involved in the second goal too, playing a neat through-ball to find Bellerin who crossed for Ramsey.
FW Olivier Giroud, 6 -- The strains of the festive fixture list appear to be catching up with Giroud, who was very quiet against Sunderland. That's partly explained by the fact that he regularly rotated out to the flank, but even when in his preferred central role, he struggled to make much of an impression. Despite all that, he did grab a goal, tucking away from close range after another storming run from Bellerin.
MF Mikel Arteta, 6 -- Replaced Chambers after 67 minutes to get a run-out after his latest injury lay-off.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 7 -- Came on for Iwobi after 67 minutes and continued his recent productive streak with a smart side-footed finish.
FW Jeff Reine-Adelaide, NR -- The French youngster came on for Campbell after 81 minutes to make his Arsenal debut.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.