Alexis Sanchez double secures win for Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-0 in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
The result keeps the Gunners in fifth position in the Premier League table, with 72 points and one game remaining.
Arsenal are a point behind fourth place Liverpool and three points behind third place Manchester City.
Arsenal complete their league campaign with a home match against Everton on Sunday.
To secure a top four finish they will need to beat the Toffees and hope that either Liverpool or Manchester City slip up in their final matches.
Arsenal can secure a top four spot with a win and if Liverpool drop points against already relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield.
Manchester City require a point from their remaining game against Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday to secure a top four finish.
After their 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium tonight they also have a plus 5 goal difference advantage on Arsenal.
It took Arsenal until the seventy-second minute to open the scoring against Sunderland.
The match was played in subdued atmosphere with thousands of empty seats in all parts of the stadium.
Sanchez tapped in Mesut Ozil’s square pass past Jordan Pickford.
The Chilean doubled the lead in the 81st minute when he headed in from close range after Pickford had palmed out Olivier Giroud’s effort on goal.
It took Sanchez’s Premier League goal tally to twenty-three this season.
The Gunners have lost only one of their last 17 Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium (W13 D3 L1).
Arsenal have won four successive league matches at the Emirates Stadium, keeping clean sheets in all of them.
The Gunners had 18 efforts on goal in the first half, with Pickford denying Giroud in the clearest opening.
At the other end Sunderland twice went close to taking a shock lead when Jermain Defoe and Didier Ndong had left footed shots from tight angles in the thirty-fourth and thirty-seventh minutes saved by Petr Cech.
Héctor Bellerín hit the right post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle in the forty-first minute.
And Aaron Ramsey was denied on the stroke of half-time by Pickford.
The second half started in bizarre fashion, when Cech conceded an indirect free kick in the penalty area after an errant back-pass.
From the subsequent free kick Sebastian Larsson’s lob into the penalty area was headed over the bar by Granit Xhaka.
At the other end Pickford continued to impress with another save from Ramsey.
Giroud also sent a header just wide of the post as Arsenal pressed for a breakthrough.
Arsenal were given further impetus with the introduction of substitutes Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi.
Welbeck had a right footed shot saved by Pickford in the seventy-second minute.
From the resultant corner Xhaka and Ozil combined to set up Sanchez for the crucial opening goal.
Nine minutes later Arsenal wrapped up the three points, when Sánchez headed in from very close range after Giroud’s flick on goal was palmed out by Pickford.
Arsenal ended up having 36 shots at goal in the match – their most efforts in a Premier League game since 2003.
So Arsenal maintained an outside chance of a top four finish going into the final fixture of the season.
Arsenal: Cech 6, Bellerin 7, Holding 7, Mustafi 7, Monreal 6, Gibbs 6 (Iwobi), Xhaka 6, Ramsey 6 (Welbeck), Ozil 6, Sanchez 8, Giroud 6 (Walcott)