Arsenal captain Robin van Persie scored twice to clinch a much-needed win for his side, with his late winner sealing a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Emirates.
Ahead of the game, Van Persie insisted in the club’s matchday programme that he had no intention of quitting the club amid recent transfer speculation, and went on to underline his importance to Arsene Wenger’s side with a brilliant display.
Arsene Wenger’s side kicked-off just two points above the relegation zone after their worst start to a season for 58 years.
But Arsenal will always be a threat while they have van Persie and the Gunners captain showed his class with a cool finish after only 29 seconds.
Sunderland gave the ball away from the kick-off and when Gervinho crossed low into the penalty area, van Persie dummied Wes Brown before firing past Simon Mignolet to score the club’s fastest ever Premier League goal and the quickest in the top-flight this season.
Former Arsenal winger Sebastian Larsson equalised in sublime fashion as the Swede curled a brilliant shot beyond Wojciech Szczesny from 25 yards in the 31st minute
Szczesny then had to make a fine stop from Lee Cattermole’s close-range header to deny Sunderland a second goal.
But van Persie saved his best until last as he stepped up to bend a superb free-kick over the Sunderland wall and into the top corner in the 82nd minute.
That was enough to give Arsenal only their third win in eight league games and lift Wenger’s men into 10th place, while struggling Sunderland are above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Earlier on Sunday, West Bromwich Albion climbed out of the relegation zone after defeating bitter rivals Wolves 2-0 in the Black Country derby at the Hawthorns.
Roy Hodgson’s side started the day third bottom of the table with just one win in their seven league games, but goals from Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie ended that dismal run and earned the bragging rights over their hated neighbours.
Brunt opened the scoring early in the first half and Nigerian striker Odemwingie came off the bench in the closing stages to clinch Albion’s first top-flight win against Wolves since 1982.
While Albion are finally on the up, Wolves have slipped below their rivals after five successive league defeats – their worst sequence at the top level since 1984.
Tottenham travel to fourth placed Newcastle in Sunday’s late game.
Arsenal 1-0 Sunderland: (Van Persie)
Arsenal 1-1 Sunderland (Larsson)
Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland (Van Persie)