Arsenal's hopes of second place ended by draw that keeps Sunderland in Premier League
PUBLISHED: 21:38 20 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:13 21 May 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0
Stuttering Arsenal drew a blank for the third home game in succession as Sunderland secured Premier League survival at the Emirates.
The Gunners are now out of the running for a second place finish and need a point from their last game against West Brom this weekend to be absolutely sure of an automatic place in next year’s Champions League.
Sunderland seemed nervous at the start, with Sebastian Coates almost turning Hector Bellerin’s cross into his own net, and it was the home side who made the running throughout.
However, they only caused Costel Pantilimon to break sweat once in the first half, when the Black Cats goalkeeper reacted quickly to smother Jack Wilshere’s run into the penalty area.
Otherwise, the Gunners tended to build attacks that foundered at the final hurdle and Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Mesut Ozil all fired chances over from distance.
Olivier Giroud also went close, collecting a delicately floated ball over the top from Aaron Ramsey, but his volley on the turn fizzled wide of the far post.
Sunderland made two substitutions at the interval and one of the new arrivals, Steven Fletcher, almost put them ahead straight away, latching onto Adam Johnson’s pass to bring a close-range save from David Ospina.
Fletcher went close again soon afterwards, outpacing Per Mertesacker on the counter-attack, while Ospina also denied Patrick van Aanholt with his legs.
At the other end, Pantilimon was finally called into serious action to parry Giroud’s deft flick and then leapt across to gather a goalbound header from Gibbs.
Arsenal sent on Theo Walcott, who burst clear and chipped Pantilimon only for Coates to hook the ball off the line – and there was another close shave for the visitors when Billy Jones headed against his own crossbar.
Fellow substitute Tomas Rosicky nearly carved out a winner, exchanging passes with Walcott before slicing wide, but the Gunners were unable to find a way through as Ramsey and Walcott were thwarted by Pantilimon in the closing stages.
Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey, Cazorla; Wilshere (Walcott 68), Ozil (Rosicky 82); Giroud.