Sanchez keeps Arsenal in hunt
Alexis Sanchez sank Sunderland to keep Arsenal in the hunt for Champions League qualification on Tuesday, while Manchester City all but secured a top-four place by beating West Bromwich Albion.
Sanchez scored two late close-range goals to earn Arsenal a 2-0 home victory over relegated Sunderland, while Kevin De Bruyne starred as City comfortably defeated West Brom 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
City climb to third in the Premier League, two points above Liverpool and three points clear of Arsenal, with only the teams finishing third and fourth assured to join Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal must win their final game at home to Everton on Sunday and hope Liverpool slip up at home to relegated Middlesbrough if they are to guarantee a 20th successive season of Champions League football.
As well as their points advantage over Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool also have a superior goal difference (+33 to +30).
A point at Watford on Sunday will guarantee a top-four place for Pep Guardiola’s City, but they can secure third place — and, crucially, avoid the Champions League play-off round — if they win.
A conspicuous number of empty seats at the Emirates Stadium articulated the apathy that has taken hold among Arsenal fans this season and Wenger’s team made heavy work of beating Sunderland.
They had the best of the first half, with Hector Bellerin striking the outside of the post from one of a succession of home attacks.
But rock-bottom Sunderland twice threatened on the counter-attack, with Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech obliged to save from Didier Ndong and Jermain Defoe.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford looked set to foil Arsenal in the second half, saving from Aaron Ramsey and substitute Danny Welbeck, but in the 72nd minute the hosts’ pressure told.
Granit Xhaka’s lofted pass was squared by Mesut Ozil and Sanchez volleyed in his 22nd goal of the league campaign from beneath the crossbar.