Abou Diaby, Jack Colback, Arsenal v Sunderland
started life without Robin van Persie with a 0-0 draw against Sunderland
as the Gunners could not find a breakthrough against a resolute Black Cats defence.
Arsene Wenger's side's best chances of the game fell to new boy Olivier Giroud who somehow fired an effort past the post with only Black Cats keeper Simon Mignolet to beat from inside the box. Santi Cazorla also had decent efforts but could not find a way past the Belgium international.
The Wearsiders' best opportunity fell to James McClean in the opening minutes but he was denied by a good save from Wojciech Szczesny. Arsene Wenger’s side pressed late on but could not force a winner as both teams settled for a point.
|CAZORLA GOES CLOSE
| FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY
||GREAT CHANCE! Gervinho shows some fine skill to skip a challenge and burst into the box from the left. He pulls back towards Cazorla, but the debutant doesn't quite wrap his foot around the ball and it zips just wide of the near post.
Wenger handed Premier League debuts to summer signings Podolski and Cazorla. The German international was part of a three-pronged attack alongside Gervinho and Theo Walcott while the Spaniard joined Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta in the centre of midfield.
Alex Song was not named in the squad, with a move to Barcelona agreed, while Thomas Vermaelen took the captain’s armband replacing Van Persie as skipper, the Gunners' third captain in three years.
Martin O’Neill handed a debut to Carlos Cuellar who partnered John O’Shea at centre-back while Craig Gardner and Kieran Richardson started at right and left-back respectively. Fraizer Campbell was preferred to Louis Saha in attack and played just in front of Stephane Sessegnon.
The visitors started the game in confident fashion and could have taken the lead through McClean in the opening minutes as he was played through one-on-one with Wojciech Szczesny but the Irishman could not beat the Gunners keeper who made a good save with his feet.
Arsenal went straight on the counterattack and Cazorla jinked past several Black Cat defenders before firing a vicious left-footed shot at goal which was turned away brilliantly by Simon Mignolet as the ball was swerving away from him.
Brilliance from Gervinho nearly carved out a goal for the Gunners, as he beat Gardner with a swift turn and jinked past O’Shea before crossing for Cazorla whose left-footed shot went just past the post of Mignolet.
Arsenal were becoming more threatening as the half progressed and Mignolet had to be at his best to deny them as Diaby raided forward from midfield and looked to place the ball in the bottom corner but the 24-year-old shot-stopper was there to turn the effort past the post at full stretch.
The second-half started in the same way as the first ended as the Gunners dominated possession but struggled to break down a resolute Sunderland defence with O’Shea in particular good form at the heart of the rearguard action.