Arsenal may have dominated nearly every statistic in the match, but Sunderland was able to grind out a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
The point guarantees Sunderland will play in the Premier League next season, leaving Hull City and Newcastle the only two teams still in danger of relegation.
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Dick Advocaat was appointed manager of Sunderland in March, and his passion for the club was seen as the Dutchman was in tears as they applauded the traveling supporters after the match.
Arsenal dominated the opening 45 minutes, controlling possession in Sunderland’s end for nearly the entire first half. Jack Wilshere replaced Francis Coquelin in Arsene Wenger’s starting lineup for his first start since November, and the English international was immediately involved in the attack.
Wilshere and Santi Cazorla controlled the midfield and tried to get the ball to Olivier Giroud up top, but despite the lopsided possession, Arsenal didn’t manage to put any solid scoring chances on target. At times Sunderland dropped nine men into the box to defend, leaving Danny Graham as the Black Cats’ lone attacking option. It took Sunderland 42 minutes to get an attempt on goal as Adam Johnson’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
Dick Advocaat made a double-switch at halftime, bringing on Steven Fletcher and Jack Rodwell to try and garner some sort of attack in the second half. In his first minutes on the pitch, Fletcher got Sunderland’s first shot on target of the match.
After a subdued start to the half from Arsenal, the Gunners got back on track and nearly took the lead in the 55th minute. Hector Bellerin’s cross found Olivier Giroud, whose clever flick was just palmed away by the Premier League’s tallest player Costel Pantilimon.
Theo Walcott replaced Jack Wilshere to make his 300th appearance for Arsenal, as Wilshere hasn’t played a full 90 minutes in over 15 months.
With Sunderland fighting to keep the match level, the Black Cats got a bit of luck as Aaron Ramsey’s cross deflected off defender Billy Jones, only to be saved by the crossbar as Pantilimon could only look on.
In the end, the Black Cats weathered the storm and will back in the Barclays Premier League come August.
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere (Walcott, 67′), Ozil (Rosicky, 81′), Alexis, Giroud
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, O’Shea, Coates, Cattermole, Larsson, Johnson (Buckley, 75′), Graham (Fletcher, 46′), Defoe, Wickham (Rodwell, 46′)