Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0
Alexis 72, 81

Arsenal’s Champions League ambitions will rest on the outcomes of final day of the season following Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Sunderland. The Gunners are a point behind Liverpool who face relegated Middlesbrough in their final Premier League game at Anfield, while continuing the Merseyside theme, Everton come to the Emirates in a game which Arsenal must win. Third placed Manchester City travel to Watford in their last game. The Gunners would need an unlikely high scoring Watford win and a Boro win or draw whilst themselves beating Everton for a top four finish. If the Reds see off Boro however, Arsenal’s outcome could be academic meaning that they would face a run in Europe’s second tier club competition for the first time. Whether that is under Arsene Wenger isn’t yet known, however he will have been heartened to see his side eventually ease past a dogged Sunderland, where another Alexis Sanchez double was the difference. Alexis has now netted 23 Premier League goals, just one away from Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.

Laurent Koscielny was ruled out due to an ongoing foot injury, and Aaron Ramsey came in for Francis Coquelin to an otherwise unchanged starting eleven to the one which thumped Stoke 4–1 last weekend.

With only three minutes on the clock, Alexis fired over the bar following a neat move involving Ramsey and Giroud in the build up.

The visitors response was almost immediate with Petr Cech having to be alert to get low down after Fabio Borini’s run and shot

Granit Xhaka has had an indifferent beginning to his time at Arsenal but his passing here was of the highest order. A 60 yard cross field pass found Hector Bellerin, who then came inside but shot just over Jordan Pickford’s bar.

Rob Holding’s is a rising stock and he clearly enjoys playing in a back three. When he raced out, weaving in and out in a promising run, he took a return pass, and looked good to score, only to see his shot blocked for a corner.

Xhaka then had two efforts from range off target, but again at the other end, Cech had to save after Didier N’dong and Jermaine Defoe combined in a swift break. Moments later and Defoe forced another excellent low save from Cech to see the ball go wide as relegated Sunderland grew in confidence.

Perhaps the best chance to open the scoring fell to Bellerin. Mesut Özil played him in on the right, and as he raced in, and with an increasingly narrowing angle, Bellerin could only find the side netting.

Pickford the saved from a corner after Ozil was played in from Ramsey’s scoop shot.

0-0 at the break, the groans of frustration were being heard at the Emirates stadium. Giroud headed wide from Bellerin’s cross as Sunderland inspired by Pickford’s fine goal keeping were holding on for a point.

Wenger took off Ramsey for Danny Welbeck and Kieran Gibbs for Alex Iwobi. Immediately into the action, Pickford saved Welbeck’s low shot.

The Gunners’ momentum was growing and after 72 minutes, the visitors resistance was broken. Xhaka raked a ball out onto the left where he found Ozil. The German crossed for Alexis to tap in from three yards.

The Gunners began to up their game and Alexis again was the instigator. His “see you later” step overs to Lee Cattermole saw the latter track back to foul the Chilean for which he received a yellow card. The Gunners were hungry for more. Özil picked out Xhaka, but once again Pickford saved, and then denied Iwobi from the loose follow up.

Shkodran Mustafi had already endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful with his desperate pleas for the ball when it went out for a throw in and when the scores were still 0-0. The German centre back was now in the right wing back position and his cross was met by the outstretched boot of Giroud. Pickford kept that effort out from a certain goal, but in doing so, tipped the ball up for Alexis to run in and head into an open net for Arsenal’s second of the night.

Pickford denied any further breaches denying Welbeck after Özil and Alexis initiated a break, and the same pair teased their markers on the left only for Pickford to smother the danger.