Arsenal were seconds away from recording a fifth successive victory in all competitions and climbing to the top of the Premier League, only for Darren Bent’s last-gasp equaliser for Sunderland to deny them three points.
It was an eighth goal in 11 matches against the Big Four and Tottenham since moving to the Stadium of Light last summer for the boyhood Arsenal supporter, whose hero growing up was Ian Wright.
But while the scrappy late strike boosts Bent’s hopes of finishing the season as Premier League top goalscorer, it’s a fairly big blow for the Gunners, as instead of piling pressure on Chelsea, they have given the Blues a chance to open a four-point lead by beating Blackpool.
Arsene Wenger’s men – who are priced at 5/1 to end their six-year trophy drought by winning the title – were punished for Alexandre Song’s second-half dismissal and Tomas Rosicky’s failure to score from the penalty spot.
There’s no need for the mood to be too gloomy down in north London though, as Arsenal have picked up two more points than they did in their opening five games last year, and they were beaten on the road by both Blackburn and Sunderland in 2009-10.
Steve Bruce will now turn his attention to ensuring that the Black Cats’ hugely impressive home league record – just two losses in 21 – is carried over into the Carling Cup. They host poor travellers West Ham on Tuesday night and are 8/11 favourites to triumph.
Can they go all the way in the competition? They are 33/1 to take the trophy. See the whole Carling Cup betting market.