LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-2 today to move back to the top of the Premier League after Robin van Persie secured victory with a well-worked winner 10 minutes from time.
It was Arsenal's 10th successive win in all competitions, but they made hard work of it after racing into a 2-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes before allowing Sunderland to pull level early in the second half.
Arsenal looked set for another straightforward win after goals from Dutch striker van Persie and Swiss defender Philippe Senderos gave them a 2-0 lead after only 14 minutes in the early kickoff.
Van Persie scored with a blistering free kick after Abou Diaby had a goal ruled out when the referee failed to play the advantage rule. Senderos scored with a soft goal to make it 2-0 seven minutes later.
Arsenal were also unfortunate to have a third disallowed when Diaby had what appeared a valid goal ruled out for offside.
Sunderland fought back with Ross Wallace scoring against the run of play after 25 minutes and Kenwyne Jones heading the equaliser three minutes after the break.
Van Persie struck the winner in the closing stages, set up by a fine run by substitute Theo Walcott.
Sunderland were reduced to 10 men in the 90th minute when Paul McShane was sent off for a clattering late challenge on Belarus midfielder Aleksandr Hleb.
As well as the three goals and the one disallowed, Arsenal also struck the woodwork twice.
MENTAL STRENGTH ''We allowed them to come back to 2-1, then 2-2 and it became a test of our mental strength, resilience and quality,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Setanta Sports.
''We lacked a little bit of sharpness. It is always very difficult when you have played away in the Champions League in midweek, but to get the three points today was good.'' Sunderland manager Roy Keane said he was pleased with the character showed by his players.
''You go 2-0 down like that and we were a bit lucky with the third goal that didn't count. On some days, it could be six or seven-nil, so my players bounced back well and our general play was quite good.
''You are always going to be under pressure when you come to Arsenal and you need a bit of luck. We had a bit of luck, but maybe not enough.'' Arsenal, who have led the table for the last three weeks, were knocked off the top by Manchester United on Saturday after the champions beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 at Old Trafford.
Arsenal have 22 points from eight matches, United 20 from nine.
Seven other Premier League matches were being played later today.
REUTERS SSC KN2014