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Match Report: Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal - Out The Bottom Three!

Sunderland achieved a well-earned point at home against Arsenal, and as a result climb out of the bottom three in place of Norwich City.

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Sunderland earned a massive point in the relegation run in against Arsenal this afternoon in a game that they could well have gone on to win.

It was another clean sheet for Allardyce's men, who were organised defensively against a tough Arsenal side that struggled to break his team down.

Sam Allardyce's side were unchanged for the fourth consecutive game, and the lively Stadium of Light crowd were behind the team from the off.

It took just three minutes for Arsene Wenger's men to have their first chance, when Alex Iwobi was given the space to fire a shot at goal from just outside the area, and luckily for Vito Mannone it flew past the post. Sunderland responded almost immediately, going up the other end of the pitch to earn a corner, which was taken quickly and wasted without creating any real opportunity.

Arsenal spent the majority of the early stages of the game in possession of the ball, but Sunderland remained disciplined and looked to win it back efficiently - Wenger's men trying to work the ball around the edge of the Sunderland area with their intricate passing play.

An Arsenal corner in the ninth minute was met well by Per Mertersacker, jumping ahead of Younes Kaboul but heading straight at Vito Mannone, who collected the ball comfortably. Sunderland's first real shot of the afternoon came in the thirteen minute, a long range effort from Yann M'Vila which flew well wide. Just a minute later Wahbi Khazri wriggled away from Aaron Ramsey, and had a decent effort deflected behind for a corner. The resulting set piece was cleared out to Lee Cattermole, whose well-struck effort powered just wide of Petr Cech's left-hand post.

Sunderland were unlucky not to be one-nil up in the twentieth minute - Jermain Defoe was brought down on the edge of the Arsenal box by Laurent Koscielny, and Patrick Van Aanholt struck the bar with the resulting free-kick, which Petr Cech got nowhere near.

Sunderland remained disciplined throughout the opening half-hour of the game and Arsenal struggled to break down the home side, often being pressed into making errors. Wahbi Khazri in particular worked tirelessly up and down the left hand side of the pitch. Arsenal's best chance of the half came just after the half hour mark, when Vito Mannone got down well to save an Alexis Sanchez free kick. Arsenal had yet another chance from the resulting corner, when Alex Iwobi's shot was cleared off the line. Sunderland were hanging on, but defending fairly well.

Sunderland had a strong case for a penalty on the thirty-sixth minute, when a Jermain Defoe strike clearly hit Per Mertersacker on the hand, preventing the shot going at goal - unsurprisingly, Mike Dean waved away the Sunderland protests. In the fortieth minute it was Arsenal's turn to have a handball appeal waved away, when shouts went up after Alex Iwobi's strike hit DeAndre Yedlin on the arm.

At half time the score was 0-0, and Sunderland were deservedly level - though Arsenal had controlled much of the play, the best chance of the game - Patrick Van Aanholt's free kick which rattled the bar - came from Sunderland. Both teams were unfortunately to have not been awarded a penalty, but neither could argue that they had been better than the other at the half-way stage of the game.

Both teams came back out at half time unchanged, with the flow of the game going the same as in the first period - Arsenal kept the ball well, whilst Sunderland worked hard off it.

Sunderland had two excellent chances that were well saved by Petr Cech in the fiftieth minute. A long ball from Jan Kirchhoff found Jermain Defoe well, and his well struck half volley was saved by Cech. The follow up - a strike from Yann M'Vila - was also saved by the Czech Republic keeper.

Just a minute later Cech was at it again, getting down low to deny Wahbi Khazri - Sunderland were well on top of their opponents at this stage and had it not been for a world-class goalkeeper, they could well have been ahead.

Arsenal had a decent spell of pressure in the 56th minute and perhaps should have scored, with a chance falling again to youngster Alex Iwobi - Sunderland held on. Sunderland's poor throw ins are a real issue and yet another poor throw from DeAndre Yedlin led to Fabio Borini mis-controlling the ball, going in late and ending up in the referee's book.

Jermain Defoe had a brilliant chance to put his side ahead in the sixty-forth minute - a fine ball in behind by Lee Cattermole led to the Sunderland top scorer flicking the ball first time over Petr Cech, but the ball bounced just wide and out for a goal kick. Another good spell from Lee Cattermole in the 65th minute ensured that the noise levels in the Stadium of Light stepped up - his fine defensive closing in the Arsenal half spurring the Sunderland supporters on to cheer their players loudly.

Sunderland's best chance of the half came in the 68th minute - a great ball over the top from Wahbi Khazri landed at the feet of Jermain Defoe, who couldn't get the ball across the Arsenal box to the waiting Fabio Borini, instead earning a corner. Sunderland perhaps should have scored from the resulting set piece, but the ball went straight across the Arsenal box without connecting, going out for a goal kick.

Arsenal made two changes in the 71st minute, with Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott entering the fray in place of Alex Iwobi and Olivier Giroud, with the away team looking to cause Sunderland problems with their pace in behind. Likewise, Sunderland replaced Fabio Borini with Duncan Watmore in the 74th minute, hoping that the youngster could come on and cause the same kind of impact that he did when he came on against Norwich last week.

Another tireless Jan Kirchhoff performance meant he tired late into the game, and he was eventually replaced by Seb Larsson in the 77th minute. The big German ran himself into the ground and worked incredibly hard throughout, putting in yet another impressive shift since arriving at the club in January.

Vito Mannone judged a long ball over the top horribly just minutes later, and had it not been for Younes Kaboul Sunderland could very well have been 1-0 down due to the idiocy of their goalkeeper - with the ball down at the other end, Duncan Watmore picked out Jermain Defoe in the box but the former England striker was offside.

After a spell of pressure in the Sunderland area, Danny Welbeck had a shot in the 82nd minute but it was collected comfortably by Vito Mannone. Down at the other end Sunderland had yet another handball penalty appeal, but Mike Dean elected against awarding Sunderland the decision - replays showed he was correct to do so.

Jack Wilshere was then introduced late in the game for Arsenal, his first appearance since the FA Cup Final last season, in place of Mesut Ozil, who had endured an incredibly quiet performance. The German international barely imposed himself upon Sunderland all afternoon, with Lee Cattermole keeping the influencial attacking midfielder quiet throughout his time on the pitch.

In the 87th minute Arsenal came close to going ahead - Vito Mannone was on hand again to turn around an Alexis Sanchez strike from range.

In the 90th minute Patrick Van Aanholt earned his side a corner, and with all the big lads forward the chance was spurned - Wahbi Khazri's delivery was poor, and Arsenal cleared the ball with ease. With four minutes added on it was Sunderland who were very much in the driving seat, and in added time they earned yet another corner.

Khazri's deliver this time was better, and Lamine Kone's overhead kick flew wide of the right hand post.

Sunderland continued to put the pressure on their opponents, and Duncan Watmore earned Sunderland a free kick around forty yards out, with Laurent Koscielny going into the referee's book. Khazri played it short to Patrick Van Aanholt, and the chance was wasted yet again with another awful cross into the box. As a result, Wahbi Khazri took one for the team, bringing down Jack Wilshere as he was about to break away and earning a yellow card.

Arsenal attempted to pile the pressure onto Sunderland in the remaining moments of the game but the home side defended well, with the captain Lee Cattermole spurring on his side to stay organised.

The game finished 0-0, and it was a well earned point for Sunderland who now climb out of the bottom three ahead of Norwich on goal difference. Allardyce may well feel his side deserved to win the game, but on reflection it's fair to say that a point was probably a fair result.