Sunderland's penultimate Premier League procession
Only one more to go, then it will all be over.
Sunderland were 'better' against Arsenal than against Swansea which is little more than a crumb of comfort.
Some of those who took to the pitch may have suffered a crunch of conscience having seen the widespread criticism of their attitude and application as they paraded around the Stadium of Light on Saturday without a care in the world.
Sunderland were tighter and had more about them but this squad is so lacking in quality that a little endeavour will always be overcome by opponents with a little class.
Jordan Pickford produced a stand-out display to keep the scoreline to a respectable two-goal deficit. The 22-year-old's stock continues to rise and presumably so too his value.
With the national newspapers dispatching their London press pack to the Emirates to usurp the usual regional hacks who usually follow Sunderland, a pleasant balanced reaction to Sunderland's performance graces the pages of this morning's dailies compared with the usual hysteria generated by the likes of Craig Hope and Luke Edwards.
Here's what they said.
Alexis Sanchez strikes twice late on to spare Arsene Wenger's blushes and keep Gunners' Champions League hopes alive
Some painful statistics in the Mail perhaps from a Sunderland perspective as Ian Ladyman was the man at the Emirates:
The game saw Arsenal have more shots on target than Sunderland managed in the entire month of August, September, October, November, January, February, March or May.
And a word on Lamine Kone:
With redundancies imminent and a squad overhaul likely to follow, you'd forgive Lamine Kone for thinking of his next career move already....Midway through the first half, Kone didn't even bother looking at the ball as a cross came in.
And a note in the Mail on the moderate tactical switch which enabled Sunderland to live with Arsenal for about an hour though the Gunners were still able to float at will amongst those in a white shirt:
At the start of the night it looked straight forward for a strong-looking Arsenal team and Pickford was heavily involved from the get-go. Sunderland manager David Moyes matched Wenger's back three with one of his own and stationed Lee Cattermole in front of it on order to offer protection.
It didn't really work, though, and Arsenal's artistic attacking players passed and moved their way through the massed ranks of visiting defenders with some ease.
A note from the watching Sam Wallace for the Telegraph on Jordan Pickford and how he deserves so much more than playing behind this woeful Sunderland defence:
Arsenal's expected run of goals against Sunderland never materialised and, as it stands, Liverpool have the better goal difference. Much of that is owed to an exceptional performance from Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford who did his best to keep the scoreline down under a barrage of attacks. The 23 year-old looked as if he quite enjoyed it. This is one Englishman who deserves to be playing in the Premier League next season.
And an observation on the tactics which saw Sunderland tighter than they have been for a while:
David Moyes’ team were at least set up robustly, with five in defence most of the time and everyone behind the ball bar Jermain Defoe. His two wing-backs, Javier Manquillo and Bryan Oviedo, were more often than not augmenting the defence that was five men instead of three.
Alexis Sanchez sees off Sunderland with a late brace to keep Arsenal's faltering season just about alive
Some positivity about this Sunderland display in the Independent from a watching Jack Pitt-Brooke:
Sunderland played as if they had been personally stung by Wenger’s claim that at this stage of the season too many teams “release their focus” because they are mentally on holiday. They came here to make it difficult for Arsenal and did exactly that.
They defended properly and even had two reasonable first-half chances of their own. Didier N’Dong and then Jermain Defoe both escaped down the left and forced saves from Petr Cech. Pickford was the busier keeper but he could stand up to everything Arsenal threw at him.
The usual astonishing over-dramatics from those London-based press personnel who cover Arsenal. Oblivious to the relative issues at both clubs which took to the pitch last night, The Guardian's David Hytner was still feeling sorry for himself:
It has been a long and arduous season for Arsène Wenger and Arsenal, underpinned by hostility and a basic lack of any real sense of enjoyment. It still has a pulse though. Wenger’s team continued their recent surge, digging deep to overcome obdurate opponents in Sunderland.
But another word for Jordan Pickford:
What a season it has been for Jordan Pickford and he further enhanced his reputation here. Arsenal mustered 36 shots on his goal and the statistics showed that he made 11 saves. He had no right to make some of them.
And praise from Arsene Wenger who hailed the Sunderland goalkeeper's "exceptional night" but ruled out a summer move:
We have plenty of goalkeepers. We have Petr Cech, David Ospina, Wojciech Szczesny on loan at Roma, who had an exceptional season at Roma and Emiliano Martinez.
If there is one thing we don’t need to buy it is a goalkeeper.