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Sunday 4 December 2016

Sunderland are safe as Arsenal secure third position

Emirates draw safeguards Sunderland's Premier status

Fletcher
Fletcher

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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