Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal: Black Cats climb out of relegation zone, Gunners fail to reclaim third
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 24/04/16 10:35pm
Sunderland climbed out of the relegation zone and pegged Arsenal back after a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Both sides had penalty shouts turned down in the first half, as referee Mike Dean waved away appeals from Jermain Defoe and Alex Iwobi.
Patrick van Aanholt went closest to breaking the deadlock when his free-kick hit the post, while former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone made several impressive saves to preserve his clean sheet.
Jack Wilshere came off the bench in the closing stages for Arsenal, making his first appearance since the 2015 FA Cup final.
The draw moves Sunderland above Norwich City on goal difference into 17th, while Arsenal remain fourth on 64 points, level with third-placed Manchester City and now only five points clear of Manchester United having played a game more.
Both teams were unchanged from recent victories, but it was the visitors who carved out the first opening when Iwobi fired a yard wide after quick feet on the edge of the box.
But Sunderland grew into the game, with Wahbi Khazri and Lee Cattermole both going close before Van Aanholt struck Petr Cech's post with a curling free-kick.
And the hosts felt they should have had a penalty when Defoe's first-time shot struck Per Mertesacker on the arm, but referee Dean ignored their protest.
The official did the same to Arsenal just before half-time, when Iwobi appealed for handball after his strike hit the covering DeAndre Yedlin on the arm.
Mannone kept his former club out with a smart save from Alexis Sanchez's free-kick, while the Chilean also had a header cleared off the line in an entertaining first half.
Defoe tested Cech with a stinging volley five minutes after the break, and the Arsenal 'keeper was alive to keep out Yann M'Vila's scuffed follow-up.
He was called into action again by Khazri, while down the other end Iwobi miscued his volley after good work by Oliver Giroud.
The Arsenal striker, who has now extended his longest league run without a goal to 14 games, endured a frustrating afternoon and was replaced by Danny Welbeck with 20 minutes to play.
Defoe looked most likely for Sunderland and after beating Mertesacker in a foot-race, the striker saw his chip drop wide of Cech's goal with the goalkeeper beaten.
But he wasted the chance to present Fabio Borini with a tap-in when Laurent Koscielny cut out his square pass after Khazri's through ball.
And Mannone breathed a sigh of relief after misjudging a clearing header outside his box, as Younes Kaboul bailed out his 'keeper by dispossessing Welbeck.
Wenger brought on Wilshere for the final seven minutes and Mannone made another impressive save from a firm Welbeck strike.
Lamine Kone volleyed over a late chance for Sunderland in stoppage time, but neither side could find a winner in scrappy final exchanges.
Arsenal: Cech (7), Bellerin (6), Mertesacker (6), Koscielny (7), Monreal (7), Elneny (6), Ramsey (7), Iwobi (6), Ozil (6), Sanchez (7), Giroud (6)
Subs used: Wilshere (6), Walcott (6), Welbeck (6)
Sunderland: Mannone (7), Yedlin (7), Van Aanholt (7), Kaboul (8), Kone (7), Kirchhoff (8), M'Vila (6), Cattermole (7), Borini (6), Khazri (6), Defoe (7)
Subs used: Larsson (6), Watmore (6)
Man of the match: Jan Kirchhoff