Sebastian Larsson.
Sebastian Larsson.

SUNDERLAND were the architects of their own downfall as a succession of cheaply conceded free-kicks on the edge of their 18-yard-box ultimately invited the inevitable.

Robin van Persie – so often the assassin of Sunderland’s always- faint Arsenal hopes down the years – drove the dagger home with awesome effectiveness in the 82nd minute, finishing what he started when his stunning 82nd minute free-kick added to the opening goal he scored inside the first 30 seconds at the Emirates yesterday.

The winner was the Dutchman’s 10th goal in nine games against the Wearsiders, confirming his standing as Sunderland’s ultimate modern-day nemesis.

Arsenal would have regarded the winner as just reward for a performance which could easily have yielded a van Persie hat-trick within the first 15 minutes of the game.

But Sunderland, for their part - having spent much of the second-half kicking Arsenal’s encroaching attackers - must have kicked themselves all the way home, knowing how close they’d been to a valuable away point or – on another day – perhaps even all three, had a couple of decent chances gone their way.

Read Graeme Anderson’s full match report in today’s Sportmail.