Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stalemate Secures Safety for Jubilant Sunderland; Arsenal ................................................................................................ 0 Sunderland .......................................................................................... 0

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stalemate Secures Safety for Jubilant Sunderland; Arsenal ................................................................................................ 0 Sunderland .......................................................................................... 0

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter at Emirates Stadium james.hunter@ncjmedia.co.uk

RARELY can a goalless draw have been greeted with such an outpouring of joy.

But when it is enough to secure Premier League survival, it is hardly surprising that Sunderland's players, staff and fans were celebrating a stalemate at the Emirates Stadium.

Sunderland needed a point to avoid taking their relegation fight to the last day, and a nerve-shredding trip to Chelsea.

And they have achieved their aim. Sunderland have earned the tag of the Premier League's draw specialists this season, and it has been their inability to convert more of those draws into win that landed them in the relegation mire in the first place.

So perhaps it was appropriate that the result that kept them up was a draw - their 17th of the season, and their ninth to end goalless.

While others have been greeted with groans, this one spared scenes of wild celebration - and a few tears - in the dug-out, on the pitch and in the soldout away end.

Sure, Sunderland rode their luck - goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon made a string of fantastic saves, Sebastian Coates cleared off the line, and Billy Jones deflected a cross on to his own crossbar - but Arsenal could not find a way through.

Boss Dick Advocaat said Sunderland would not simply 'park the bus' at the Emirates and was as good as his word, with the Black Cats also creating several clear-cut chances to win the game, but sub Steven Fletcher and Patrick van Aanholt were unable to make the most of the opportunities that came their way.

There were no complaints at fulltime, however.

Sunderland are now unbeaten in five games, and can go to Chelsea on Sunday with no relegation pressure on their shoulders.

The relegation battle is now a twoway fight on the last day between Hull City and Newcastle United.

And Sunderland are well out of it. They turned in a heroic performance at the Emirates, with Pantilimon worthy of special praise.

He made save after save to frustrate the Gunners, denying Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott among others. …

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