Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Stalemate secures Black Cats safety

Published 20/05/2015

Sunderland players celebrate after securing Premier League safety
Sunderland players celebrate after securing Premier League safety

Sunderland battled to a 0-0 draw at Arsenal, which was enough to keep them in the Barclays Premier League.

The Black Cats needed a point to avoid a nervous final day of the season at champions Chelsea on Sunday.

Despite Arsenal having plenty of chances to put the match beyond Dick Advocaat's side and so secure third place, the hosts were left frustrated following a resolute display by Sunderland, which leaves Newcastle and Hull now alone in facing the scrap for survival.

Arsenal, who started the day two points ahead of Manchester United in their quest to secure automatic Champions League qualification, had opened brightly.

On 14 minutes, midfielder Jack Wilshere, making a first start since November, was played into the right side of the Sunderland penalty area by Alexis Sanchez, but goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was out quickly to block, taking a blow to his knee in the process.

Wilshere, now back to full fitness following another injury-hit campaign and expected to be involved again with England in Thursday's squad announcement, volleyed high into the Clock End after being set up by Aaron Ramsey following another quick Arsenal counter-attack.

On 30 minutes, Mesut Ozil was picked out by a perfectly weighted chip from Wilshere, but the German crashed his half-volley over.

Arsenal continued to probe, with Wilshere again the provider as his dinked pass into the left side of the penalty area was pulled back across goal and just wide of the far post by Olivier Giroud.

When Sunderland did make a rare break, midfielder Adam Johnson drilled his 20-yard rising effort over.

Despite all of Arsenal's possession, Pantilimon was not really tested as the first half faded out.

A Sunderland fan passionately showing his support after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium
A Sunderland fan passionately showing his support after the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher (centre) sees an effort go past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina (left) but wide of the goal during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher (left) and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat points to his watch during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 20, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Ozil (R) is substituted and replaced by Arsenal's Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky (2R) as Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger (L) looks on during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 20, 2015. Sunderland held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw earning the Black Cats a valuable point that ensures their Premier League survival. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Sunderland's Dutch manager Dick Advocaat (L) celebrates with Sunderland's English midfielder Lee Cattermole (R) after the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 20, 2015. Sunderland held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw earning the Black Cats a valuable point that ensures their Premier League survival. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Costel Pantilimon and Sebastian Coates of Sunderland challenge Olivier Giroud of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Sunderland fans celebrate on the final whistle as their team avoid relegation during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Sunderland fans celebrate on the final whistle as their team avoid relegation during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: David Ospina of Arsenal (L) saves a shot from Steven Fletcher of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Billy Jones of Sunderland goes in to tackle Olivier Giroud of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Steven Fletcher of Sunderland takes a shot at goal under pressure from Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Hector Bellerin of Arsenal holds off Connor Wickham of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on May 20, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Sunderland manager Advocaat, who has never been relegated, looked to freshen things up for the second half as Jack Rodwell and Steven Fletcher replaced Connor Wickham and Danny Graham.

The Gunners were defeated 1-0 in a smash-and-grab raid by Swansea on the Emirates Stadium last Monday night, and were almost caught out again following the restart.

Arsenal goalkleeper David Ospina had to be alert to come out and block an angled shot from Graham and then stood up at the other post to deny left-back Patrick van Aanholt, who had surged forwards on the overlap.

That scare sparked Arsenal into life, with Giroud getting on the end of a whipped ball in from the right by Hector Bellerin, which Pantilimon turned away at point-blank range before the Sunderland goalkeeper plucked a goal-bound header from Kieran Gibbs out of the air at the far post.

Arsenal opened Sunderland up again as Ozil picked out Sanchez in a crowded box, but his shot was blocked.

Sunderland broke suddenly as Fletcher latched onto a long ball down the left, and sprinted into the Arsenal penalty area. His attempted chip, though, was palmed behind by Ospina.

Wilshere was replaced by Theo Walcott with 23 minutes left, the England forward making his 300th Arsenal appearance.

Sunderland should have taken the lead moments later when Van Aanholt played the ball across the Arsenal penalty area from the left, and Fletcher got ahead of Laurent Koscielny but could only stab the ball over the crossbar from six yards.

Walcott was played into the right side of the Sunderland penalty area between the defenders but, although he tapped the ball past the keeper, Sebastian Coates came across to hack it off the line.

Sunderland then enjoyed a huge slice of fortune as a cross in from the right was sliced by Coates onto Billy Jones, and the ball cannoned back up onto the crossbar before bouncing clear.

Arsenal continued to press Sunderland back, with substitute Tomas Rosicky, Giroud and Walcott all going close, but the visitors held on, sparking wild celebrations among the travelling support at the full-time whistle.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph