Arsène Wenger had contract news and in the absence of him finally confirming that he will prolong his 17½-year association with Arsenal beyond the end of the season, it was probably the next best thing. Tomas Rosicky, the manager said, had reached agreement on a new deal. Like Wenger, Rosicky's current terms are set to expire in June.

"Tomas Rosicky will stay," Wenger said. "We have an agreement with him and it will come out soon. I am absolutely adamant he has to stay at the club."

Rosicky's worth to Arsenal is lost on nobody who watches him regularly, least of all Wenger, who has come to reach for him in the very biggest matches like some sort of charm.

It was a surprise that he omitted him for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat at home to Bayern Munich, but the Czech Republic international returned here and he was central to the over-running of Sunderland.

His goal was a beauty, stamped with Arsenal's first-time passing that slices through opposing teams when it is in sync, as it also was on Olivier Giroud's opener. Rosicky started the move, which took in contributions from Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere before he swapped passes with Giroud and clipped the ball over the advancing Vito Mannone.

It carried shades of Wilshere's goal against Norwich City from October and it technically made the game safe although, in reality, Arsenal were comfortable from the moment that Giroud turned the ball home after incisive work by Lukas Podolski, Rosicky and Wilshere.

Rosicky was billed as "Little Mozart" when he signed in May 2006 from Borussia Dortmund but the 33-year-old has evolved into the all-round midfielder who brings balance, organisation and urgency to the team.