SUNDERLAND, England — Arsenal won its first Premier League match in over a month on Saturday, beating Sunderland 2-0 with a brace from Alexis Sanchez after a pair of defensive errors.
Sanchez scored in the 30th minute after a mistake from Sunderland center back Wes Brown, who scuffed an attempted back pass to goalkeeper Vito Mannone. Sanchez raced past Brown and collected the ball to go one-on-one with Mannone, lobbing it over the advancing keeper into the back of the net.
The Chilean scored again in second-half injury time after another poor back pass. This time, the ball reached Mannone, but he couldn't control it after taking a touch. The ball bobbled off the former Arsenal keeper's boot and Sanchez pounced on it for a simple tap-in.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised Sanchez, saying his star summer signing is swift in the transition from offense to defense and wins the ball back very quickly.
"He took advantage of the mistakes they made, but he's also got a super quality — he's quickly on your feet which is why he wins many balls that normal players don't," Wenger said.
While Arsenal's victory wasn't convincing, it was the Gunners' first league win since they beat Aston Villa on Sept. 20 and their third overall triumph this season. The London side now sits closer to the top four despite also drawing five times and losing once.
Saturday's win is encouraging, but there were also nervous moments for Arsenal before Sanchez's second goal with Sunderland putting the visitors under pressure while searching for an equalizer
"I believe we were quite in control as long as we could score the second goal," Wenger said. "Of course you (can) concede a goal and drop points, but we didn't do it today — we were focused."
Sunderland had a few chances to equalize in the second half. Jack Rodwell's header from a long cross in the 52nd nearly beat Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, while Sebastian Larsson's long-range shot in the 65th was saved by Szczesny.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet put on forward Jozy Altidore in the 74th in an attempt to salvage a draw. It was the American's first league appearance of the year, but he made little impact.
While Sunderland didn't endure the same 8-0 humiliation it faced against Southampton last week, the home side never controlled the match at the Stadium of Light as Arsenal dominated with nearly 60 percent possession.
Poyet said he was a bit angry about the two defensive mistakes, because he thought his team fought hard otherwise and responded well to last week's embarrassment.
"Normally it takes you I don't know how many games to commit one of those mistakes, and we made two in the same game," he said.