Sadly for Sunderland supporters it wasn't Darren Bent who fluffed a great second half chance to put the Wearsiders level when he fired against Manuel Almunia from close range. But Arsenal's Theo Walcott is sure to have caught Capello's eye after a stunning display on the righnt wing
Both teams had key players missing. Lee Cattermole, Andy Reid and Jordan Henderson forced Bruce to restructure his midfield with Anton Ferdinand starting the game in a makeshift holding role. Arsene Wenger meanwhile had to manage without the likes of Abou Diaby, William Gallas and Andrey Arshavin.
The Gunners boss had some quality replacements to call on but the crucial difference between the two sides was that the home side played to a tried and tested plan. At times, especially during the first half, Bruce's team were poorly organised lacking shape and purpose.
Midway though the first half Bruce threw George McCartney into midfield and tasked Ferdinand with a left back role. With Darren Bent operating as a left winger the Gunners mounted a succession of attacks down that flank.
After Walcott had failed to breach the deadlock with a series of surging runs down that side of the pitch, Sunderland were caught napping when Emmanuel Eboue threaded a ball to Nicklas Bendtner to tap home.
The only surprise was that Arsenal failed to finish the game off in the first half. As is often the case the Gunners' penchant for a flowing passing move prevented them from making more of their dominant possession.
Kenwyne Jones wasted a superb chance to level, firing a lolw shot wide from ten yards after being put through by Kieran Richardson.
It took Cesc Fabregas's injury time penalty to finally put the game beyond doubt.
Sunderland (4-5-1): Gordon; Hutton, Turner, Mensah, McCartney (Bardsley 85); Campbell, Ferdinand, Cana, Richardson (Zenden 75); Jones (Benjani 79), Bent.
Subs (not used):Carson (gk),Da Silva, Kilgallon, Malbranque.
Arsenal (4-5-1): Almunia; Eboue Denilson (90), Vermaelen, Silvestre, Clichy; Walcott (Sagna 79), Ramsey, Fabregas, Nasri (Rosicky 73); Bendtner.
Subs(not used): Fabianski (gk), Campbell, Traore, Denilson, Vela.
Referee: Steve Bennet (Fanborough)
** READ A FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS OF TODAY'S GAME IN MONDAY'S NORTHERN ECHO **