An Alexis Sanchez brace dealt Sunderland a 2-0 defeat away in their penultimate Premier League outing.
The home side left it late to score but ultimately won comfortably after upping their intensity halfway through the second half. With Jordan Pickford keeping the score respectable for this sorry Sunderland team.
David Moyes' squad will finish bottom this year losing their 25th game in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger and Arsenal are still in the top four race, one point off Liverpool and two off Manchester City, heading into the final game of the year.
Sunderland held Arsenal in a relatively pedestrian first half taking advantage of a lack of intensity from the home team. In a contest lacking atmosphere in a comparatively empty Emirates Stadium.
Sanchez looked to have given Arsenal a crucial early breakthrough with his drive from distance racing past Jordan Pickford into the bottom corner. The goal was waved off by referee Roger East, who spotted the shot had deflected off Olivier Giroud's arm on route to goal.
Sunderland struggled to pressure Arsenal's midfield early on, looking uncomfortable in a formation they've barely used this year. Aaron Ramsey took advantage driving at the back three before slipping in Giroud. Through on goal the Frenchman wasted the opportunity, shooting too close to Pickford who got down low, stopping the ball dead.
Arsenal had two strong penalty shouts against Lamine Kone turned down in the same minute. Ramsey knocked the ball beyond the Ivorian, before Kone grabbed him, stopping the midfielder from shooting at point blank range. East surprisingly waved on play. From the resulting corner, Kone put both his arms around Giroud to stop him getting on the end of a cross, somehow he was let off by East again.
Sanchez was next to miss an Arsenal chance. The highly sort after forward's volley from close range lacked power. Sanchez likely saw the ball late after Didier Ndong had lost the flight of the ball close by.
The Black Cats improved around the half hour mark, gaining territory after some slack Arsenal passing helped build confidence. Ndong had the first shot on target racing beyond the Arsenal back line after exchanging passes with Jermain Defoe. He was unable to catch out Petr Cech at his near post, the experienced stopper comfortably parrying behind.
That combination of Ndong and Defoe caused Arsenal further problems. The Gabonese midfielder's perfectly measured through ball put Defoe in down the outside of Arsenal's back three. Defoe's calculated finish was heading for the far corner, but Cech got down well to deny him.
Moyes and Sunderland survived several late scares before half time. Hector Bellerin took advantage of a missed Sebastian Larsson interception to get in behind. He chose to shoot despite several players awaiting a cutback, just shaving the side netting from close range.
The Gunners best move of the half saw Ramsey and Mesut Ozil exchange precise passes. The moved ended with Pickford stretching to deny a first time effort from the Welshman. From the resulting corner it was Rob Holding's turn to let Sunderland off. The young centre half headed tamely into ground, straight at Pickford, when he was unmarked.
Further careless play from Arsenal nearly gave Sunderland an unlikely breakthrough to start the second half. Nacho Monreal's casual back pass completely missed Cech and was heading in, Cech at full stretch just parried behind. The Wearsider's were awarded an indirect free kick. Larsson tried to catch Arsenal off guard, hanging the ball just under the crossbar. Granit Xhaka was alert flicking over for a corner.
Buoyed by competing so well for an hour Sunderland showed some rare resilience. Lee Cattermole denied Shkodran Mustafi, deflecting his volley from a corner over just in front of the goal line.
It took an hour for Arsenal to start really pressurising Moyes' men. A series of corners and sustained possession in the Sunderland half started to force the issue with time elapsing.
The breakthrough came with under 20 minutes left. Xhaka's perfectly weighted ball over the top of Javier Manquillo found Ozil just six yards out. The playmaker volleyed first time to the on-rushing Sanchez who tapped into an empty net.
The goal settled Arsenal. Who started to carve open Sunderland, perhaps chasing an improved goal difference in their race for fourth. Sanchez came close twice both times East blowing his whistle after he nearly buried. The Chilean hitting the crossbar and forcing fast reactions from the 23 year old with two sharp shots that wouldn't have counted.
Sunderland didn't heed the warning signs. Alex Iwobi forced Pickford into another save at full stretch. He waltzed past a Sunderland defence that were offering little resistance against a livelier Arsenal attack, firing across goal. Xhaka was also denied by Pickford, who was down quickly to deal with Xhaka's attempted finish looking for the near corner.
Giroud's athletic volley at full stretch was diverted by Pickford's fingertips from close range, Sanchez was first to react and couldn't miss heading into an open goal, doubling the London club's lead.
Pickford produced arguably his save of the night parrying a powerful Mustafi header onto the crossbar.
Ultimately it ended 2-0 and was another game where Sunderland were comfortably beaten. Pickford and the timing of the goals may deceive some into thinking the away side played well. They didn't. Thankfully the season is nearly over.