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EPL: Wilshere returns as Arsenal drop points against Sunderland with a goalless draw

Defoe Mertesacker Arsenal Sunderland Penalty Wilshere
Jermain Defoe ought to have been awarded a penalty in the first half
Sunaadh Sagar

Arsenal played out a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland, although the Gunners migh consider themselves luck, especially after the Black Cats were denied a clear penalty in the first half and troubled the Gunners in the second half, with Wilshere’s return being one of the few positives for the Gunners.

Lineups

Sunderland XI : Mannone; Yedlin, van Aanholt, Kaboul, Kone; Kirchhoff, M'Vila, Cattermole, Borini, Khazri; Defoe.

Arsenal XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Elneny; Sánchez, Ozil, Iwobi; Giroud.

First Half

Arsenal had won just two of their last 8 Premier League games, although the Gunners started well right from the off. Alex Iwobi has been the lone bright spot amongst the doom and gloom, and the Nigerian danced through the Sunderland defence in the 3rd minute before unleashing a low drive from the edge of the box that went narrowly wide.

Arsenal had plenty of the possession as the half progresses, but failed to underline their ascendancy with a goal, although Sunderland did have a couple of threatening situations. The hosts came closest in the 22nd minute, when van Aanholt struck the corner of the goal-frame from a free-kick, with Petr Cech a spectator in the Arsenal goal.

Sanchez decided to hit back in the free-kick stakes, curling in a lovely effort of his own in the 34th minute, but Mannone dived at full stretch to palm the ball away from the bottom right corner, before recovering quickly to deny Iwobi on the followup, and again from the subsequent corner.

The major flashpoint of the first half came in the 37th minute, as Sunderland were denied a clear penalty. Bellerin made a mess of a header clearance, with the ball falling to Defoe in the box – the Sunderland man aimed a volley at goal, but Mertesacker blocked the effort with his arm, but Mike Dean waved the appeals away.

Arsenal had a penalty shout of their own in the 41st minute, as Iwobi’s goal-bound effort deflected of Yedlin’s blocking tackle onto his arm. Dean waved play on yet again, which meant that both sides went into the break on level terms, with the score at 0-0.

Second Half

Sunderland started the second half on the front foot, as they drew a trio of saves from Petr Cech inside the first 7 minutes. First, Kirchoff sent Defoe clear with a lovely long ball, and the Sunderland man drew a good save from Cech, who also denied M’Vila on the rebound. Moments later, Khazri worked Cech yet again, as Arsenal looked increasingly nervous.

Arsenal were floundering in attack, with Giroud and Ramsey looking particularly labourious, and Sunderland almost took advantage in the 65th minute as Defoe nearly put the Black Cats ahead. Cattermole sent Defoe running at the Arsenal defence, and the Englishman cheekily lobbed Cech, only to watch in agony as the ball dipped narrowly wide.

Arsenal had not had a single shot on goal in the second half as the final 15 minutes approached, and Wenger responded bringing on Welbeck and Walcott on for Iwobi and Giroud.

The duo were almost gifted a goal in the 79th minute, as Mannone came out to clear a ball, only managing to head the ball behind him, but Kaboul denied Welbeck and an onrushing Walcott to spare his keeper the blushes. Welbeck and Watmore had shots as goal as both sides laboured to score a goal as the half, with Wilshere coming on for his first Arsenal game of the season with 10 minutes to go.

Sanchez nearly caught out Mannone at his near post with a fierce low drive in the 86th minute, but the Sunderland keeper made a good stop to deny the Chilean. Kone went close with an overhead kick from a corner late on, but it mattered little, as the game finished all square, thus resulting in Arsenal staying in 4th place in the table, level on points with Manchester City.


Edited by Staff Editor

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