And that’s the final whistle. Arsenal have wasted their chance to get within one point of Manchester United and Sir Alex’s men will be thanking their lucky stars as the home side could well have won this if a couple of decisions had gone their way. A penalty shout from Arshavin could well have been given on another day, combined with an incorrect call from the linesman on the Russian attacker’s one-on-one with the Sunderland ‘keeper have denied Arsene Wenger’s men from an essential three points and have to make do with just the one. Steve Bruce’s men will be happy to take a point away from this game and have done well to earn it. Thank you for joining Goal.com UK for the live coverage between these two teams and we hope to see you again soon.
Yellow Card Jack Colback
Arsenal are ending the game in a fashion that have plagued them all match; stay passes in attacking moves are finding no one and Sunderland are lucky so far to be coming away from this with a point.
Substitution Jordan Henderson Jack Colback
As Sunderland seem to be ending the game the stronger of the two sides, Arsenal have once again been robbed of a chance to win the match late on. A great ball from the middle of the pitch finds Arshavin and the Russian is one-on-one with Mignolet, but the assistant referee flags him offside. However, replays show that the attacker was very much onside when the ball was played.
Sunderland immediately try again to get a late winner, but Szczesny is there once more to stop a great shot from Henderson that rebounds of the ‘keeper, Bramble looks to follow up with another shot, but the defender’s shot is blasted over the bar.
Yellow Card Samir Nasri
Meanwhile at the other end, Szczesny keeps Arsenal’s hopes alive by pulling off a great save to deny Welbeck a goal after returning from injury. The striker takes Sessegnon’s ball well on his first touch and hits a powerful effort that looks like it’s heading for the bottom corner, but the Polish ‘keeper reacts well and tips the ball round the post.
Yellow Card Laurent Koscielny
Arshavin again is given a chance to break the deadlock after great work by Arsenal to get the ball into the box, as the attacker is about to pull the trigger, his marker Bramble trips himself up in the process of tackling the Russian and is seems to bring the Arsenal man down with his arms on his way down. However, the referee thinks nothing of it and Sunderland are awarded a goal-kick. Arsenal may have something to be unhappy with there.
Substitution Asamoah Gyan Ahmed El Mohamady
Substitution A. Diaby Tomas Rosicky
Off the bar from Arsenal! Chamakh rises to a cross from the left and gets his head on it, but the woodwork saves Sunderland and the defence have to clear again. I’m not too sure how long Steve Bruce’s men can withstand this bombardment.
A free-kick just on the left-hand edge of the Sunderland box is taken well from Nasri; the ball bends in the air and seemed to be heading for the top corner, but a fantastic save from Mignolet keeps the game goalless and the ‘keeper’s defence clear the ball.
Substitution Steed Malbranque Danny Welbeck
A free-kick won by Arshavin is taken by the Russian himself on the right-side of the box and finds Bendtner, but tight marking from Bramble forces the Dane to head it out of play.
Yellow Card Jack Wilshere
Arshavin is given the second period’s best chance so far. A long ball from midfield finds substitute Chamakh out on the right and the Moroccan pulls the ball back into the path of the Russian just inside the Sunderland box and puts his foot through the ball, forcing Mignolet to pull off a great save and his defenders clear the ball to safety.
Substitution Denilson Marouane Chamakh
The fans are being given more to complain about than cheer about with both sides being sloppy in possession, Arsenal are keeping the ball more than their north east counterparts, but not doing a lot with it as Sunderland contain the Gunners on the edge of their area, forcing them to play it back and start again.
Yellow Card Jordan Henderson
No solid chances from either side so far. Arsenal seem to have improved their passing in Sunderland’s half of the pitch, but are still giving the ball away needlessly in their own. The visitors are keeping up appearances by grabbing any lose passes as they look to spring themselves on their opponents.
A much calmer start to the second-half. Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey begins his warm-up on the sidelines of the pitch and gets the biggest cheer all game from the home crowd.
Sunderland get the game under way once again.
And that’s the half-time whistle. A very disjointed display from Arsene Wenger’s men; an array of chances, combined with sloppy, tentative defending will have the Frenchman wondering what his team can do to break a Sunderland side that have been happy to defend whilst waiting for their own chances through Arsenal’s mishaps at the back. It probably says a lot that this is the afternoon’s only Premier League game without a goal in it so far. See you in 15 minutes.
Another well placed chip from Wilshire puts Bendtner through on goal on the right side, the Danish striker takes his time and strikes with power toward the back end of Mignolet’s net, but the Belgian is able to stretch and reach the effort and put it out once again for a corner. Arsenal take the set-piece and Bramble clears well.
Nasri does what he does best in the box and takes on every defender that comes his way with his delicate footwork combined with powerful pace and the French midfielder is able to get a shot off from angle, but Mignolet saves and it goes out for a corner. The following set-piece is taken by the protagonist and the ball eventually finds Bendtner with his back to goal and attempts the over-head kick, but lack the lack of power and angle to the shot makes it easy for Sunderland’s Belgian ‘keeper to collect.
Arsenal look like the team most likely to break through the barrier first, but Sunderland are still trying to poke holes in the hosts' defence on the counter. Fantastic defending at both ends is starving this game of the goal it probably deserves.
Some equally sublime defending at the other end denies Arshavin a chance on goal. The Russian is played through by a lovely chip from Wilshire, but Bramble does brilliantly to put the Arsenal man off and the ball rolls safely into Mignolet’s arms.
Great defending from Djourou. Sunderland find a way through deep into the box and Malbronque is given a chance to either put in a pass across goal or try the shot from the angle, but the Arsenal stopper slides in on the Frenchman with the ball ricocheting off of the midfielder on the way and goes out for a goal-kick.
Yellow Card Kieran Richardson
Feeling like quite an open game so far. Arsenal have struggled to keep a firm hold on the ball like they so often do at the Emirates, a few stray passes allowing Sunderland to counter and Steve Bruce’s have taken their chances more times than none when given the opportunity.
Sessegnon tests Szczesny well with a shot just inside the 18-yard box; his powerful effort was well struck, but the Arsenal ‘keeper doesn’t have to move far to make the save as the ball rebounds off of the Poilish shot stopper.
The game has calmed down now as both teams look to put the ball on the ground and create chances through the channels, but neither side look to have set about their tactics on the match so far to their full effects.
Bendtner has a good chance to have an effort on goal after great work from Clichy who manages to get round Sessegnon and put the ball in the middle of the area, but the Dane’s touch isn’t what he wanted and Arsenal have to try again, giving Nasri a chance to make amends, but his curing shot finds Mignolet comfortably.
Arsenal look very uncertain in these early minutes and have awarded Steve Bruce’s side another corner which almost finds an unmarked Anton Ferdinand, but the ball is cleared hesitantly as far as Bardsley who manages to take a long range effort that just clips the post.
A very positive start from Sunderland. An early attacking move from the visitors leads to a clearance that only goes as far as Sessegnon and wins a corner for his tenacious efforts. The resulting set-piece finds Szczesny and Arsenal can attempt to gain some control.
And Arsenal get us underway at the Emirates.
Sunderland line-up: Mignolet, Ferdinand, Mensah, Bramble, Bardsley, Henderson, Muntari, Malbranque, Richardson, Sessegnon, Gyan. Subs: Gordon, Riveros, Welbeck, Colback, Elmohamady, Knott, Noble.
Arsenal line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Denilson, Wilshere, Diaby, Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Ramsey, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh.
In terms of team news, Aaron Ramsey could make his first return for Arsenal since breaking his leg last year and starts the game on the bench. However Captain Cesc Fabregas remains on the sidelines along with Alex Song and Robin van Persie. Sunderland are without Bolo Zenden and Frazier Campbell, but Danny Welbeck returns to the bench.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com UK’s live coverage of Arsenal against Sunderland. The hosts will be looking to take advantage of Manchester United’s crushing defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier in the week and bring the gap between the two title hopefuls to just one point. Meanwhile, Steve Bruce’s side have somewhat of a lost cause in working for a Europa League place thanks to Birmingham City’s sensational win at Wembley in the League Cup final over their opponents today and anybody below Tottenham will have to work miracles to get to fifth place by the end of the season.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed