Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Arsene Wenger not giving up on top-four spot

Arsene Wenger not giving up on top-four spot

Alexis Sanchez's brace means Arsenal could yet secure a top-four finish by beating Everton at home on Sunday, but only if fourth-place Liverpool - a point above them - slip up at home to Middlesbrough.

Wenger's own position still remains a mystery as he has yet to announce if he will sign a new deal to remain at the club beyond the FA Cup final meeting with Chelsea on Saturday week.

Wenger had urged fans not to boycott the Sunderland fixture in their latest protest against the Gunners boss, but when the Frenchman emerged from the tunnel before kick-off he was greeted with swathes of empty red seats around the Emirates.

Arsenal started brightly here, however, in their now-customary 3-4-3 system.

Arsenal repeatedly had long-range efforts. Arsenal's supporters became frustrated.

Sunderland, meanwhile, created two chances in curiously similar circumstances.

Arsenal were expecting Sunderland to at least be playing for pride - but the visitors were fortunate not to concede three times in the opening 12 minutes. The positioning of this one was unusual: Sunderland had it right on the byline on the corner of the 6-yard box (the offence was closer to goal but indirect free-kicks can't be taken inside the 6-yard box). The game was sold out on paper, but that was not the case when looking into the stands.

Yet Sunderland kept coming. I thought we passed the ball well when we got it, and the players played like they have played for eight or nine weeks.

Four minutes later, Arsenal broke the deadlock as Mesut Ozil played fine first-time pass to Sanchez, who slotted home from point-blank range.

So Sunderland trudge on, while Arsenal have now won four in a row.

Whether it will be enough to save Arsenal's dispiriting season remains to be seen.

33 - Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in 33 PL goals this season (23 goals, 10 assists), more than any other player.

Sanchez has scored 28 goals in 49 appearances this season despite not being an out-and-out striker, but media reports have suggested he is unhappy at the club.

Arsenal almost broke he deadlock two minutes later, but Sunderland shot-stopper Jordan Pickford produced a superb save to deny Giroud from close range.

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