Arsenal moved back to within a point of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud ended a run of six league appearances at home without a goal by scoring twice in the first half as Arsene Wenger's side dominated against lacklustre opponents at the Emirates Stadium.
The striker opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a close-range finish and doubled his tally in the 31st minute after Santiago Vergini's ill-advised attempted backpass to Vito Mannone.
Tomas Rosicky added a third in the closing minutes of the first half after a fine team move, while Laurent Koscielny was also on target shortly before the hour mark following terrible Sunderland defending from a corner.
The win ensures Arsenal stay close behind leaders Chelsea in the race for the title, while Sunderland, who grabbed a late consolation through Emanuele Giaccherini, could hardly have had worse preparation ahead of their League Cup final meeting with Manchester City next weekend.
Wenger's side made a great start as Sunderland failed to pressurise their opponents and Giroud took full advantage.
Having controlled possession from kick-off, Arsenal found a gap in the visitors' defence when Jack Wilshere played a one-two with Rosicky on the edge of the area before squaring the ball to Giroud, who made no mistake to register his 11th league goal of the season.
Rosicky and Lukas Podolski both went close before a dominant Arsenal doubled their lead.
Sunderland gifted their hosts the goal as Vergini, making his first league start, failed to spot Giroud when making a backpass to Mannone. The Frenchman gratefully intercepted and rolled the ball into the net.
With three minutes of the first half remaining, Arsenal got the third goal that their play deserved as Rosicky completed a fine passing move with his first goal of the season.
The Czech midfielder exchanged passes with Wilshere and Giroud and calmly lifted the ball over Mannone when one-on-one.
The introduction of Sebastian Larsson and Giaccherini at the break sparked Sunderland into life but, despite their increased attacking intent, they struggled to test Wojciech Szczesny.
Any hopes of a shock comeback were ended in the 57th minute when Koscielny evaded the attention of Phil Bardsley to meet a Santi Cazorla corner and emphatically head home his first goal of the campaign.
Szczesny got down well to deny Ki Sung-Yueng in the 70th minute after Larsson had headed across goal, but the goalkeeper was unable to do anything about Giaccherini’s low shot with nine minutes to play.
The Italian controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired through a crowd of players to score the first goal against Arsenal in league matches at the Emirates for 537 minutes.
|12||O. Giroud||5' 31'|
|Coach: A. Wenger|
for Nacho Monreal 46'
for L. Koscielny 67'
for T. Rosický 73'
|Neymar will re-sign with Barca, promises father|
|Berisha extends Victory stay|
|Arnold backs fans amid A-League boycott|
|Perez happy at Newcastle|
|Klopp can´t forget ´f***ing´ Palace loss|
|Mihajlovic: Milan didn´t expect extra time|
|Carvalhal hopes cup run spurs Wednesday to league success|
|Coppa Italia Review: AC Milan survive scare, Torino thrash Cesena|
|Hughes happy with rotation policy after League Cup win|
|Football League Review: Burton win to go top of League One|
|Atletico still uncomfortable - Simeone|
|AC Milan 3 Crotone 1 (aet): Bonaventura and Niang extra-time strikes send hosts through|
|Leganes 2 Granada 1: Segunda Division side threaten upset|
|Ligue 1 Review: Leaders Paris Saint-Germain held on the road|
|City thrashing cruel on Hull - Bruce|
|City thrashing cruel on Hull - Bruce|
|Pellegrini: Silva brings style back to City|
|Reaching last four is ´terrific´ - Martinez|
|Lukaku urges Everton to push on|
|FIFA sponsors call for ´independent oversight´ of reforms|
|Stoke City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Potters end visitors´ League Cup run|
|Manchester City 4 Hull City 1: De Bruyne double books semi-final spot|
|Middlesbrough 0 Everton 2: Deulofeu and Lukaku on target in routine win|
|Reus Deportiu 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Third-tier hosts make life difficult for Atleti|
|Amnesty International critical of Qatar, FIFA|
|Angers 0 Paris Saint-Germain 0: Cavani fails to make his mark|
|Ramos: Madrid fight for Undecima every day|
|Silver screen awaits for Vardy?|
|Del Bosque noncommittal on Aduritz form|
|Dybala: Juventus´ slow start normal|
|Koeman confident Southampton can match Liverpool|
|Venezuela stars issue quit threat to FA|
|Moreno agent opens door to Real Madrid offer|
|Herrera: I´m very happy at Manchester United|
|Lars Bender undergoes ankle surgery|
|Delneri takes over at Verona|
|Bellerin: I did not know how to defend until I joined Arsenal|
|Panathinaikos hit with three-point penalty after violence|
|Martial and Depay unhappy under ´selfish´ Van Gaal - Parker|
|Injured Carvajal set to miss Cadiz tie|
|Klopp vows to play strongest Liverpool team against Southampton|
|Ronaldo rested for Copa clash|
|Sanchis implies Neymar provoked Isco kick|
|Benitez: I have no problem with James|
|Luis Enrique plays down Suarez Ballon d´Or omission|
|Sergio Ramos is right - football is cyclical, says Luis Enrique|
|Klopp defends Mignolet amid Ter Stegen rumours|
|Boksic backs Mandzukic to get 20 goals for Juve|
|Neymar hails ´great friends´ Messi and Suarez|
|Chelsea submit planning application for new stadium|
|French sports people need to be exemplary - Valls|
|Moyes: Valencia job has come too soon for Neville|
|Napoli loss ´doesn´t change anything´ for Mancini|
|Ronaldo ´uncomfortable´ as a number nine, claims Madrid great Sanchez|
|Manchester City receive $400m Chinese investment|
|Messi: Ronaldo deserves Ballon d´Or nomination, but I´d prefer Suarez|
|Moyes open to another European gig|
|Everton welcome cup pressure - Martinez|
|Casillas open to MLS move|
|Hughes: Butland going nowhere|
|Milner eyes trophies at ´exciting´ Liverpool|
|Napoli became anxious - Sarri|
|Inter did not deserve to lose - Mancini|
|Messi beats Ronaldo to top prize at La Liga awards|
|Bolton Wanderers 1 Brentford 1: Smith watches on as strugglers snatch point|
|Napoli 2 Inter 1: Higuain at the double as hosts go top|
|Lewandowski: Less pressure on me than Aubameyang|
|Defoe, Larsson to miss Arsenal match|
|Sassuolo 1 Fiorentina 1: Di Francesco´s side extend unbeaten home run|
|Barcelona took ´a step forward´ without Messi - Busquets|
|Unfair to blame Garcia for Roma form - Zanetti|
|Southampton v Liverpool: Returning stars have Ibe in buoyant mood|
|Lewandowski´s five-goal haul recognised for four records|
|Barcelona v Villanovense: Holders get second crack at minnows|
|Verona sack Mandorlini|
|Valencia confirm Nuno departure|
|Premier League clubs reveal agent fees|
|Stoke will not underestimate Sheffield Wednesday – Hughes|
|Robben wants Guardiola to stay at Bayern|
|Aguero allays foot injury concerns|
|Cadiz v Real Madrid: Pepe calls for hard work in Andalusia|
|Bolton confirm players have not been paid for November|
|Neville takes Valencia training following Nuno resignation|
|Mihajlovic targets Coppa Italia triumph|
|Garde confident Villa will survive|
|Everton to make late call on Barry and McCarthy|
|Davids: Messi is an anomaly but Ronaldo just an athlete|
|Simeone open to January signings following Tiago injury|
|Messi leads nominees for Puskas Award|
|Hummels defends himself after media criticism|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar nominated for Ballon d´Or|
|Luis Enrique, Guardiola and Sampaoli up for World Coach of the Year|
|Chelsea about the team, not just Costa - Ivanovic|
|Kuyt open to Feyenoord extension|
|Barcelona lodge complaint over ex-Madrid duo´s Neymar comments|
|Davies wants Manchester City quarter-final to get crazy|
|Ribery ordeal is over – Rummenigge|
|Smalling: Vardy run opens door to non-League hopefuls|
|Bender relieved to end Dortmund losing streak|
|Mata: Manchester United have six finals in December|
|Vardy reveals painful road to Premier League record|
|Pardew urges Newcastle to back McClaren|
|Russian clubs banned from signing Turkish players|
|Klopp expects Coutinho to face Southampton|
|Valverde: Let´s hope Barcelona don´t sign Aduriz|
|De Bruyne relishing link-up with Silva|
|´Crazy´ Munich could convince Guardiola to stay|
|Defiant Garcia refuses to resign despite Roma slump|
|Monk confident Swansea can turn the corner|
|Bellerin: Arsenal can cope without Sanchez|
|McClaren: Newcastle not panicking|
|Klopp delighted with Sturridge, Henderson returns|
|I wouldn´t swap Lukaku for Vardy - Martinez|
|MLS Review: Timbers, Crew to meet in final|
|Nuno saddened by Valencia departure|
|Morata will become a key player - Allegri|