05272017

Sanchez double keeps Arsenal’s top-four hopes alive

Arsenal score the opener through Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez’s brace takes him to 24 Premier League goals this season

Arsenal ensured the top-four race goes down to the final day of the Premier League season with a laboured win against already relegated Sunderland.

Alexis Sanchez tapped in Mesut Ozil’s square pass to the relief of those inside a sparsely populated Emirates Stadium.

As Arsenal increased in urgency, Sanchez bundled in Olivier Giroud’s cut-back to renew their hopes of a top-four finish for a 21st successive season.

The Gunners are a point behind fourth-placed Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s final matches.

Arsene Wenger’s men must beat seventh-placed Everton and hope the Reds slip up against already relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield.

Patience pays off for Arsenal

Arsenal started the evening needing to win – and preferably by a big margin – if they were to realistically sneak into the top four.

The Gunners knew defeat against rock-bottom Sunderland, who had managed just three away wins all season, would end their hopes if Manchester City earned a win against the Baggies.

And with City cruising to a 3-1 win in their game, even a draw would have left Arsenal struggling.

Until Sanchez’s intervention, it looked as though Wenger’s side would be left frustrated by a lack of conviction in front of goal and some stubborn Sunderland defending.

Finally the Gunners found their breakthrough with 20 minutes left. Granit Xhaka picked out Ozil with a clever chip over the Sunderland defence which was put back across goal by the German for Sanchez to tap in.

Arsenal knew just a draw against Everton might be enough to catch Liverpool if they wiped out the Reds’ superior goal difference, and Wenger urged his side to push for more goals from the touchline.

Sanchez was lurking in the six-yard box at the right time again to convert Giroud’s volleyed pass but, although Shkodran Mustafi hit the woodwork, Arsenal could not add to their tally.

Ultimately patience paid off for the Gunners, who are now hoping Middlesbrough can do his team a favour at Anfield.

“Sunderland did fight and that’s what you want from every team,” said Wenger afterwards.

More to follow.

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 2, Sunderland 0.

Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Sunderland 0.

Attempt missed. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a set piece situation.

Attempt blocked. Adnan Januzaj (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Billy Jones.

Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal).

Lynden Gooch (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alex Iwobi (Arsenal).

Adnan Januzaj (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt blocked. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.

Attempt missed. Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alex Iwobi following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Lamine Koné.

Substitution, Sunderland. Darron Gibson replaces Didier Ndong.

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.

Attempt blocked. Adnan Januzaj (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Didier Ndong.

Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

Lynden Gooch (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Mesut Özil with a cross.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Lamine Koné.

Attempt blocked. Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) header from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Substitution, Arsenal. Theo Walcott replaces Olivier Giroud.

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Didier Ndong (Sunderland).

Attempt missed. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Substitution, Sunderland. Adnan Januzaj replaces Javier Manquillo.

Goal! Arsenal 2, Sunderland 0. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) header from very close range to the centre of the goal following a corner.

Attempt saved. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Shkodran Mustafi with a cross.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Billy Jones.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Javier Manquillo.

Attempt saved. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín.

Attempt saved. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Substitution, Sunderland. Lynden Gooch replaces Lee Cattermole.

Offside, Sunderland. Lee Cattermole tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.

Offside, Arsenal. Nacho Monreal tries a through ball, but Alexis Sánchez is caught offside.

Hand ball by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

Attempt blocked. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.

Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Lee Cattermole (Sunderland).

Goal! Arsenal 1, Sunderland 0. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mesut Özil following a corner.

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