Without Robin van Persie who left for Manchester United, the Gunners looked bereft of ideas at times and were unable to really test an organised Black Cats defence in scorching conditions in front of just over 60,000 at the Emirates Stadium.
The Arsenal strike force led by Lukas Podolski, and later fellow summer signing Olivier Giroud, did not have the fluidity that was evident last season when van Persie was the focal point but it will take time for the aforementioned attackers to adjust to Arsene Wenger's game style.
Sunderland actually started the brighter of the two sides with James McClean and Jack Colback forcing sharp saves from Wojciech Szczesny but it was the home side who had the chance of the match with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Impressive debutant Santi Cazorla, signed from Malaga, played a neat ball into the path of second-half substitute Giroud whose first-time effort whizzed wide of Simon Mignolet's lefthand post. You feel if it was van Persie running onto it, the ball would have finished in the back of the net.
Nevertheless, both teams toiled hard in warm conditions with Wenger's men, although dominant in possession, incapable of breaking through Martin O'Neill's disciplined outfit who will be heading back to the Stadium of Light thrilled with picking up one point to kick-off their campaign.
Emirates Stadium, London - 60,078
Yellow cards:ARS - nil SUN - nil
Player notes: - Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud (ARS & Premier League debut), Carlos Cuellar, Louis Saha (SUN debut)