Arsenal ensured the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four will go down to the final day of the season with a laboured win against relegated Sunderland.
Alexis Sanchez tapped in Mesut Ozil’s square pass to the relief of those inside a sparsely populated Emirates Stadium.
As Arsenal increased in urgency, Sanchez bundled in Olivier Giroud’s cut-back to renew their hopes of a top-four finish for a 21st successive season.
Despite having 36 attempts at goal – the most in a Premier League game since 2003 – the Gunners could not wipe out fourth-placed Liverpool’s superior goal difference.
Arsene Wenger’s side are currently four points adrift of the third-placed Reds and can move within a solitary point with victory over the Black Cats in north London going into the final day of the season. Wenger’s were struggling to see off relegated Sunderland until Sanchez came to the rescue with two goals deep into the second half at the Emirates Stadium.
Despite refusing to sign a new contract, Sanchez remains the only Arsenal player consistently performing at a world-class standard and the former Barcelona forward, playing despite a recent thigh injury, is the sole reason they still have a faint chance of a top-four finish. In reality, the fifth-placed Gunners need a miracle to qualify for the Champions League for a 20th successive season.
Laurent Koscielny could also miss out after a recurrence of an ongoing calf problem while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) faces a race to be fit for the FA Cup final.
Meanwhile David Moyes could be without Jason Denayer and Victor Anichebe.
Denayer (thigh) and Anichebe (hamstring) both limped off during the first half of Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Swansea and did not train yesterday.
George Honeyman is also struggling to shake off a back injury sustained when defender Lamine Kone fell on him in training last week, but fellow midfielder Lee Cattermole (Achilles) and full-back Bryan Oviedo, who was named among the substitutes at the weekend following a hamstring injury, are pushing for returns.
Arsenal’s sixth win in their last seven games moved them within one point of fourth-placed Liverpool, but there was bad news from Eastlands where Manchester City beat West Bromwich Albion to retain their three-point lead over Wenger’s team.