Sunderland bolstered their survival prospects following a hard-fought goalless draw with a lacklustre Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon.
- Sunderland 0 Arsenal 0
- Van Aanholt free-kick hits the bar
- Arsenal survive late onslaught
- Black Cats move up to 17th place
- Arsenal remain in fourth on goal difference
Despite dominating ball possession and shots on goal, Arsenal were unable to find the all-important breakthrough as Sunderland claimed a crucial point in their quest to beat the drop.
Patrick van Aanholt struck the post with a free-kick, while Arsenal keeper Petr Cech had to be alert to keep Sunderland at bay as they pressed for a winner in the closing stages of the contest.
The first half was a high-tempo affair, with both sides creating a whole host of chances.
The Gunners started on the front foot and twice went close to grabbing the lead in the opening ten minutes of play. However, promising youngster Alex Iwobi fired just wide of the left-hand post, before Per Mertesacker saw his goal-bound header kept out by Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone.
The Black Cats responded by creating two good chances in quick succession, although efforts from Yann M’Vila and Lee Cattermole failed to hit the target with their respective efforts.
The chances continued to flow at both ends of the pitch, with Mohamed Elneny’s 20th-minute effort saved by Mannone, before Sunderland’s Patrick van Aanholt hit the bar with a powerful free-kick.
However, it was the Gunners who looked more likely to find the breakthrough as the first half wore.
Olivier Giroud, who went into Sunday’s clash aiming to end a 13-match scoring drought, squandered a good opportunity from just six yards out, while Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez saw goal-bound efforts kept out by Mannone.
The last real chance of note fell to Mertesacker, but the German defender was unable to make it count, heading inches wide from Sanchez’s inviting cross.
While Arsenal had looked the stronger side in the first half, the roles were reversed after the half-time break as Sunderland created the better chances.
Jermain Defoe and Yann M’Vila were denied by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech in quick succession on the 50-minute mark, while Khazri was also unable to force a way past the Gunners stopper.
Arsenal eventually got going a few minutes later, with Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey failing to find the mark with their respective shots on goal.
The Gunners were again let off the hook on 65 minutes, though, when Defoe shot wide of the left-hand post after latching onto a well weighted through pass from Lee Cattermole.
Following a fairly lengthy passage of play devoid of any real chances, Arsenal substitute Danny Welbeck forced a save from Mannone with a low, hard shot from the edge of the area on 82 minutes.
Sanchez, who had been somewhat quiet for much of the match, had one last chance to break the deadlock in the 87th minute, but saw his long-range shot saved by Sanchez in the bottom-left corner.
And Arsenal were quite fortunate to escape with a share of the spoils as Van Aanholt fired wide of the target in the 90th minute, before defender Lamine Koné fired high and wide from the centre of the box in the first minute of injury time.