Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger facing injury headache after Sunderland victory

Arsenal's squad will be stretched in the next few weeks. Photo: PA

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is keeping his fingers crossed that injuries do not ruin a promising start to the season.

The Gunners climbed to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday after a 3-1 victory at Sunderland.

However, the win on Wearside came at a cost after striker Olivier Giroud limped off with a knee problem late in the game to join Santi Cazorla on the sidelines.

Wenger later revealed that the Spaniard is out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Marseille and is unlikely to play again before the next international break, and with Lukas Podolski currently also on the casualty list, he admits he cannot afford to lose any more attacking players.

The Frenchman told the BBC: "We score because we have a good game, lively with a lot of energy, we are dynamic in our game, and a lot of belief as well.

"But we are still short now. With the injuries we have, we cannot afford now to lose players."

Despite arriving at the Stadium of Light without defender Per Mertesacker and with record signing Mesut Ozil having only just recovered from the same bug which prevented his team-mate from travelling, the Gunners turned in a superb first-half display and should really have had the game won by the break.

Ozil took little time to settle into his new surroundings, expertly controlling Kieran Gibbs' long ball before sliding a cross into Olivier Giroud's run and watching the striker nonchalantly guide it past keeper Keiren Westwood with just 11 minutes gone.

The former Real Madrid star seemed able to split the Sunderland defence at will and twice played in Theo Walcott, only to see the England international denied by Westwood on both occasions.

Indeed, Walcott might have had a hat-trick inside the opening 43 minutes, but ended the half empty-handed when he sent a diving header wide from Giroud's cross.

But remarkably, Sunderland forced their way back into the game within four minutes of the restart when Craig Gardner, who had replaced David Vaughan at the break, thumped home a penalty after Laurent Koscielny had tripped Adam Johnson.

Aaron Ramsey restored the visitors' lead with a sumptuous volley from Carl Jenkinson's 67th-minute cross, and the Welshman sealed the win nine minutes later after combining with Ozil and Giroud on the edge of the box.

However, the Gunners had enjoyed a major escape in the meantime when, after Jozy Altidore had out-muscled Bacary Sagna to stab a shot past keeper Wojciech Szczesny, referee Martin Atkinson called play back for a foul on the United States frontman.

Wenger said: "We had plenty of chances in the first half - we had an outstanding first half. In the second half, Sunderland played very well with much more energy.

"They came back to 1-1 and we were a bit lucky at 2-1, maybe, but we found the mental resources again to win the game and were much more clinical in the second half.

"But overall, it was a very good game."

If Ozil had been the star of the show before the break - Wenger admitted his form had, perhaps understandably, dipped in the second half as a result of his illness - it was Ramsey who ultimately claimed the headlines with two accomplished finishes.

The manager said: "Ramsey, definitely compared to one year ago, what he has achieved is fantastic."

Asked what was behind his improvement, Wenger said: "His intelligence, his desire to improve, listening - he has a very learning attitude and he has as well a fantastic engine."