Sanchez Double Sinks Sunderland As Arsenal Take Top-Four Race To Final Day
Chilean forward, Alexis Sanchez kept Arsenal’s Champions League hopes alive going into the final day as he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Sunderland.
In front of a significantly diminished Emirates crowd, Arsene Wenger’s side laboured against the Black Cats, whose relegation had already been confirmed. But despite the win, the Gunners still need to perform magic by overtaking Liverpool in the last game of the season.
Playing for pride, David Moyes’ side could depart a sodden Emirates with heads held high. But they ultimately lacked the sort of moment of exceptional quality that Mesut Ozil and Sanchez had to put Arsenal ahead on 72 minutes with a well-worked opener.
Aaron Ramsey’s return for Francis Coquelin was the only change to the side that had won so convincingly at Stoke on Saturday, with Sanchez overcoming a thigh injury to retain his starting spot.
The visitors may not have done much to inspire the Premier League this season but the form of Jordan Pickford has been an undoubted positive, such that Arsenal have earmarked him as a potential replacement for Petr Cech.
The Sunderland goalkeeper kept his side in the contest during an initial flurry of pressure, denying Olivier Giroud at close range with a fine diving save. That came moments after Giroud’s handball had cost Arsenal a fine opener, Alexis Sanchez’s low drive into the bottom corner being chalked off.
As the half wore on and Pickford proved ever more indefatigable, so did Arsenal’s stage fright grow, despite the fact they were performing in front of an audience that would constitute a disappointing turnout at the Emirates Cup.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles youngster, Alex Iwobi returned for Arsenal as he tasted 21 minutes action, coming in as second half substitute for Kieran Gibbs in the 69th minute of the home tie.