Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal: Can the Season be Over yet?

Arsenal had to settle for a point after they were left frustrated by Sunderland in a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon.  Both sides had penalty shouts waved away by Mike Dean during the opening 45, and despite Petr Cech and Vito Mannone being kept busy throughout, neither side could find the crucial breakthrough.

The result certainly does more for the hosts than it does for the Gunners, who remain in fourth and are now just five points ahead of Manchester United, who worryingly have a game in hand.

Arsene Wenger stuck with the same side that cruised past West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night, and was boosted by Jack Wilshere’s return to the Arsenal bench. The decision to stick with a winning team looked to pay dividends as well, as Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges. Smart play on the edge of the box allowed Alex Iwobi space, but the Nigerian International dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Despite the early pressure from the visitors, Sunderland slowly began to grow into the game with efforts from Wahbi Khazri and Lee Cattermole, before Patrick van Aanholt rattled Cech’s post with a curling free-kick.

The home crowd were soon on their feet again, this time berating the referee for failing to point to the spot when Jermain Defoe’s volley was inadvertently blocked by Per Mertesacker’s flailing arm. You’ve seen them given.

Mike Dean then did the same down the other end. Iwobi latched onto the Oliver Giroud’s knock-down, and his goal-bound effort was blocked by the arm of DeAndre Yedlin. 1-1 on the penalty appeals!

Mannone was then forced into a smart save to deny Alexis Sanchez, who also had a header at the far post cleared off the line.

Following the interval, it was the hosts who seemed re-vitalised. Defoe’s snap-shot was pushed away by Cech, who remained alert to push away the rebound from Yann M’Vila.

Perhaps Arsenal’s best chance of the match fell the way of Iwobi after some good work by Giroud. The Frenchman hooked a cross into the box but Iwobi snatched at his volley and the chance was gone.

Defoe continued to cause Mertesacker problems at the other end, and almost lobbed Cech with an instinctive flick, but his effort flew wide of the post.

The highlight of the match came with just seven minutes to go, when Wilshere was welcomed back to first-team football in place of Mesut Ozil. Mannone then kept Danny Welbeck out with a smart stop, while Lamine Kone’s volleyed over at the other end.

It was a tame ending to the game, and in reality, another poor performance from Arsenal. The end of the season really cannot come soon enough.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Ramsey; Sanchez, Ozil (Wilshere, 84), Iwobi (Walcott, 71); Giroud (Welbeck, 71)

Unused Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Campbell, Coquelin

Sunderland: Mannone; Yedlin, Kone, Kaboul, van Aanholt; Khazri, Cattermole, Kirchhoff (Larsson, 78), M’Vila, Borini (Watmore, 74); Defoe

Unused Subs: Pickford, O’Shea, N’Doye, Rodwell, Jones

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