Sanchez double gives Arsenal hope of a ‘miracle’ top-four finish
16 May, 2017 — By Paul Cowling
ARSENAL 2, SUNDERLAND 0
ALEXIS Sanchez once again came to Arsenal’s rescue tonight (Tuesday) as he scored twice to earn the Gunners the win they needed to keep their slender Champions League hopes alive.
After the match Arsene Wenger praised his Chilean star, who put in a man-of-the-match display despite still carrying a knock from the weekend win at Stoke.
“Sanchez was not 100 per cent fit. But, when he gets the ball, he forgets the pain,” said the Arsenal boss. “He is a top-class player, and nobody can question his desire and quality. Just look at his numbers.”
Wenger was referring to Sanchez’s double-digit goals and assists for the season.
Sanchez rightfully had a seventh-minute fizzer ruled out after it hit Olivier Giroud’s hand before finding the back of the net.
Knowing that they needed to win, Arsenal peppered the Sunderland goal, notching up 36 efforts, of which 13 were on target.
But the longer they failed to find the all-important opener, the more the Mackems grew in confidence, especially with the emerging England keeper, Jordan Pickford, putting in a heroic effort between the sticks.
Just as it looked as if already relegated Sunderland were going to frustrate Arsenal, Sanchez struck. On 72 minutes he tapped in from close range after good work from Mesut Ozil. Sanchez made it 2-0 in the 81st minute when he reacted to a Pickford save from Olivier Giroud to prod home.
The brace took Sanchez’s Premier League tally for the season to 22.
There was noticeably a lot of empty seats on a rainy night at the Emirates Stadium. After the game Wenger was riled by questions of why the home fans stayed away.
“We don’t look at the seats when we play. On Sunday against Everton, it is sold out,” said Wenger.
Reflecting on the possibility of securing a top-four finish, Wenger added: “Let’s get to 75 points and see what happens. Do we need a miracle? No. We have a good chance.”
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey (Welbeck, 69), Gibbs (Iwobi, 69), Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud (Walcott, 85).
Substitutes not used: Gabriel, Ospina, Coquelin, Elneny.