Illness couldn’t prevent Ozil from starting in a free role behind Olivier Giroud, and the German’s influence was immediate. Ozil controlled Kieran Gibb’s long ball with a delightful first touch and rolled in a pass for Giroud with his second – and the Frenchman netted with a silky first-time finish.
Arsenal were wasteful in attack though and Sunderland made them pay soon after the break when half time substitute Craig Gardner levelled coolly from the spot after Laurent Koscielny’s rash lunge on Adam Johnson.
But Arsenal, who survived a wrongly disallowed Sunderland goal, steadied the ship and took charge of the game again through Aaron Ramsey, whose emphatic low volley from 20 yards silenced the Stadium of Light.
Ramsey capped the win and a fine individual display with his second of the match, stroking in after Ozil and Giroud combined to cut through the hosts.
PRE-MATCH: Mesut Ozil starts, despite suffering from illness following his big-money switch from Real Madrid. Adam Johnson captains Sunderland.
11' - GOAL: Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal - Ozil makes an immediate impact, bringing the ball down beautifully and providing the assist for Giroud, who turns the ball in with an accomplished first-time finish.
14' - BIG MISS: Ozil is tearing Sunderland apart and his perfect through ball finds Walcott, who can only shoot straight at Westwood.
48' - GOAL! Koscielny dives in on Adam Johnson and concedes a penalty, which Gardner converts.
67' - GOAL! Arsenal back in front in emphatic style. Ramsey hammers in a stylish low follow after Jenkinson picked him out.
69' - DISALLOWED GOAL: Sunderland are denied a good goal when referee Martin Atkinson brings play back for a foul on Altidore, rather than allowing the American's goal to stand.
76' - GOAL! Game, set and match Arsenal as Ozil, Giroud and Ramsey combine, with the Welshman slotting in his second.
86' - DI CANIO DISMISSED: The Sunderland boss is sent to the stands for arguing with the match officials.
Sunderland possession: 31%, Arsenal 69%.
Mesut Ozil has now registered 73 goal assists in the last five seasons - more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues.
Sunderland have now won just eight points from their last 18 Barclays Premier League games against the Gunners.
TALKING POINT: Are Arsenal title contenders? One win at Sunderland doesn't prove anything, but the way the Gunners went about their business was impressive. Ozil looked like he'd been playing in the Arsenal team for years and the likes of Giroud and Ramsey are maturing rapidly. Everything points towards a title challenge for Wenger's side.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal): While Mesut Ozil is already proving a brilliant acquisition, Aaron Ramsey pips him to the post here. Committed defensively and showing a real eye for goal, Ramsey is developing into an accomplished box-to-box midfielder.
Sunderland: Westwood 6, Celustka 6, Diakite 6, Roberge 6, Colback 6, Johnson 7, Ki, 5, Vaughan 5, Mavrias 5, Altidore 7, Fletcher 6. Subs: Gardner 7, Borini 6, Wickham N/A.
Arsenal: Szczesny 7, Jenkinson 6, Sagna 7, Koscielny 6, Gibbs 7, Wilshere 8, Flamini 7, Ozil 8, Walcott 7, Giroud 8, Ramsey 9. Subs: Vermaelen N/A, Monreal N/A, Akpom N/A.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
#SAFC 1-3 #AFC: Ozil pays back first installment of £42.5m fee with assist after 11mins; Ramsey doubles up to leave Gunners in credit.