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Published: 16:05 | 24/4/16

Sunderland hold Arsenal to 0-0 draw

Black Cats spurn the better chances

Sunderland have moved out of the relegation zone for the first time in seven weeks as they played out a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Stadium of Light.

In truth, Sam Allardyce’s could be disappointed that they didn’t take all three points as they failed to make their superior chances count.

Although the Gunners started brighter and possibly had the better chances in the first period, the Black Cats were the dominant side, creating a series of opportunities which Petr Cech proved equal to.

The point leaves Arsenal in fourth spot, behind Manchester City on goal difference and just five clear of Manchester United who have an extra game to play.

Sunderland sit above Norwich City on goal difference and they are boosted by the knowledge that their safety remains in their own hands.

Arsene Wenger’s side had the first chance on three minutes when Alex Iwobi flashed an effort just wide from outside the penalty area.

The visitors had settled quicker and they threatened again five minutes later when Alexis Sanchez's clever lob released Olivier Giroud and the striker did well to force Vito Mannone to push the ball behind for a corner. Per Mertesacker met the resulting cross with a header, but it was too close to Mannone who held easily.

Sunderland began to look more comfortable and began to create opportunities, Wahbi Kazri pouncing on Aarom Ramsey’s error and drove goalwards but his shot was deflected wide of the goal and from the corner, the ball fell to Lee Cattermole who fizzed a powerful drive wide of the far post.

Patrick Van Aanholt went closer still when his whipped free-kick beat Cech but the ball clipped the outside of the post and behind for a goal-kick.

Arsenal fought back and began to take a grip on the game, going close just after the half-hour mark when a Sanchez free-kick forced Mannone into making a superb one-handed save low to his right.

The hosts had loud calls for a penalty when Jermaine Defoe’s close-range strike hit Per Mertesacker’s arm but referee Mike Dean waved play on.

The Gunner had their own appeal turned down minutes later when Iwobi’s goalbound shot from twelve yards out deflected up onto the outstretched arm of DeAndre Yedlin but the referee was unmoved.

The home side found Cech in fine form not long after the restart, the former Chelsea keeper producing sharp stops to deny Defoe and then Yann M’Vila’s follow-up.

Defoe beat Cech with a neat lob on 64 minutes but unfortunately for the striker the ball drifted wide of the target.

Defoe continued to pose a threat and he raced clear of the Arsenal defence again but his attempt to feed Fabio Borini, who was closing in on goal, was cut out by Laurent Koscielny.

Substitute Duncan Watmore impressed after coming on, doing brilliantly to turn a couple of Arsenal defenders inside out and he swung in a dangerous cross which Defoe just couldn’t reach although the Sunderland man was flagged for offside.

Arsenal had produced a lifeless second-half display but after the late introduction of Jack Wilshere, they began to dominate the ball and Sanchez drew a fine stop from Mannone with a low drive from 20 yards.

Sunderland however, contained the late surge and finished the game on the front foot as they earned a fully-deserved point.

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