Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland seal Premier League survival with a battling point against Arsenal

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland

By Jim van Wijk

Sunderland battled to a 0-0 draw at Arsenal last night, confirming their place in the Premier League for next season.

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

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

Advocaat said: "Arsenal had the possession but you know if you keep trying you get your chances. In the second half we had chances and we had to score.

"Arsenal were the better side but the organisation was unbelievably good. We've only lost once in the last six games and that is why we deserve to stay in.

"I will give an answer next week on my future."

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said: "We couldn't score and Sunderland defended well which is understandable because they knew they could be safe tonight. We tried and tried.

"We gave a lot on Sunday and the legs were not completely there tonight. At least we didn't concede and we got an important point.

"We have some time to prepare and recover for the FA Cup final."

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

On 14 minutes, midfielder Jack Wilshere was played into the right side of the Sunderland penalty area by Alexis Sanchez, but goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was out quickly to block.

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

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.

Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina had to be alert to come out and block an angled shot from substitute Danny Graham after the break and then stood up to deny Patrick van Aanholt.

That scare sparked Arsenal into life, with Olivier Giroud getting on the end of a whipped ball in from the right by Hector Bellerin, which Pantilimon turned away before plucking a goal-bound header from Kieran Gibbs out of the air.

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

Sunderland broke suddenly as Steven Fletcher latched onto a long ball down the left. His attempted chip, though, was palmed behind by Ospina.

Sunderland should have taken the lead moments later when Fletcher got ahead of Laurent Koscielny but he could only stab the ball over from six yards.

Arsenal began to press but the visitors held on, sparking wild celebrations among the travelling support at the full-time whistle.

ARSENAL: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere (Walcott 67), Ozil (Rosicky 81), Sanchez, Giroud.

Booked: Ramsey.

SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Jones, Coates, O’Shea, Van Aanholt, Larsson, Cattermole, Johnson (Buckley 75), Wickham (Rodwell 46), Defoe, Graham (Fletcher 46).

Attendance: 59,987

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph