Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: Visitors avoid the drop as stalemate keeps Black Cats up
Jack Wilshere returned to the Arsenal first team for the first time since November.

Sunderland completed the great escape as the Black Cats confirmed their Premier League status for another season as the side held an offensive Arsenal side to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates. The result in turn also means that Arsenal all but confirm automatic UEFA Champions League football for next season.

Arsenal started the game brightly and the Gunners came close in the 12th minute when Olivier Giroud released the returning Jack Wilshere down the right wing, the English creative midfielder dashed towards goal but he left it too late as Costel Pantilimon did well to grab the ball from a sprinting Wilshere. Jack came close again as a brilliant Arsenal move saw Aaron Ramsey chip the ball towards Wilshere on the edge of the penalty box, but his first-time effort sailed way over the bar and out for a goal kick. Santi Cazorla was next to test Pantilimon as the little Spaniard fired a low and hard shot on the 20th minute mark from the edge of the penalty box, but Sunderland's keeper was there to make a low save.

Wilshere could had assisted Mesut Özil in the 18th minute as the midfielder lofted in a great chip pass into Mesut inside the penalty box, but the German’s close range volley flew high over the bar. Wilshere was playing provider again as the Englishman sent through Giroud with another good over the top pass, but Giroud’s tight angle strike went inches wide of the far post. Sunderland rarely tried to attack the Arsenal goal in the opening half despite starting with three strikers, as Dick Advocaat's side were focused on defending an incredibly attacking Arsenal side, which they did incredibly well throughout the first 45 minutes.

Sunderland made two changes at the start of the second-half as Jack Rodwell and Steven Fletcher came on for Connor Wickham and Danny Graham. The change helped Sunderland dramatically as Jermain Defoe played through the substitute Fletcher on goal, but David Ospina's sharp one handed save kept the striker at bay. Sunderland came close again moments later when Patrick van Aanholt burst through on goal un-marked, but Ospina was there again to make the save. Giroud had Arsenal’s best chance of the game in the 56th minute when Hector Bellerín whipped in a low cross to the French striker inside the penalty box, but his clever finish was well saved by Pantilimon.

Pantilimon was called into action again when Bellerín again played in a good cross deep into the box to find Kieran Gibbs, however his stretching header was met by a good diving save from Pantilimon. Arsenal went on the break again as Alexis Sanchez stuttered and dribbled his way past the Sunderland defence, but Sebastian Coates made a great block to stop Sanchez, the defender then sprayed the ball out to Defoe who played a fantastic ball towards Fletcher to set him up one-on-one with Ospina, and the Colombian 'keeper got a hand onto the English striker’s chipped shot to send the ball behind for a corner.

Fletcher came close again when van Aanholt fired in a low cross to find Fletcher darting into the penalty box unmarked, and his close range effort flew wide and high of the bar in the 68th minute. Theo Walcott tested Pantilimon next when the pacey winger made a piercing run into the box to latch onto an Ramsey pass, but his chipped effort was cleared off the line but Coates. Billy Jones almost scored an own goal when a Ramsey cross found it’s way to an uninterested Jones, and his reaction header smashed off the bar in the 73rd minute.

Walcott came close again when the winger split the defence in two in the 86th minute, but his great shot was met by another save from Pantilimon and Sanchez couldn’t get onto the end of the rebound and Coates cleared the danger. The result means that Sunderland will avoid the drop yet again and that Arsenal have all but confirmed third place in the Premier League table.

Player Ratings:

Arsenal (0) Sunderland (0)
Ospina 7 Pantilimon 9
Bellerín 7.5 Jones 7
Koscielny 8 Coates 8
Mertesacker 7 O'Shea 8
Gibbs 7.5 Aanholt 7.5
Cazorla 8 Cattermole 7
Ramsey 7.5 Larsson 8
Wilshere 8 Wickham 6
Özil 7 Johnson 6
Alexis 7 Defoe 6.5
Giroud 6.5 Graham 5
Substitutes:
Walcott 6.5 Fletcher 6.5
Rosicky - Rodwell 6.5
Buckley -
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