May 17, 2017
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‘Pickford is an incredible talent’ – Three things learnt from Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland

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Arsenal delivered a dominant performance to keep their slim hopes of Champions League football alive to pick up a crucial three points with a 2-0 victory against Sunderland.

The already-relegated Black Cats dug in and frustrated their hosts for long period, but an Alexis Sanchez brace clinched victory for the Gunners.

Although the top four remains out of their hands, they are keeping the pressure on the sides above them. They were excellent on Tuesday and attempted an incredible 36 shots during the match.

Here are three things that we learnt from Tuesday night’s clash at the Emirates Stadium…

The race for a top four finish will go to the final day

The Gunners knew that they had to win on Tuesday to keep the pressure on Liverpool and they managed to do that with an excellent performance.

Sunderland may be bottom of the table, but they were playing with no pressure and it looked like they might be able to hold out for a point. However, Arsenal found a breakthrough late on and moved to only one point behind Liverpool.

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Arsene Wenger will know that his team face a difficult task and that it isn’t in their own hands, but they have given themselves a chance with this victory.

Manchester City’s win over West Brom means that they are all but secured a top-four finish, unless something spectacular happens on the final day as they do have a superior goal difference.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have a home match against Middlesbrough, while Arsenal host Everton. The Gunners have the more difficult match, but they will have hope as Liverpool have struggled against the teams in the bottom half of the table at times this season, especially at Anfield.

Jordan Pickford is an incredible talent

This isn’t new information, but he showed his class on Tuesday as he made several key saves and was impressive when distributing the ball.

Sunderland will know that they face a near impossible task of keeping him at the club this summer as he has the potential to be one of the best goalkeepers in this country.

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His breakthrough this season has been incredible and he will attract interest from lots of clubs this summer. A move away from the Stadium of Light seems inevitable.

During the match, he made 11 saves to keep Arsenal at bay and came 20 minutes away from earning what would have been a spectacular clean sheet.

The home side must have been wondering if it was possible to beat the 23-year-old before Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal of the evening, as Pickford was equal to anything that came towards his goal.

His shot-stopping is excellent, but it is his reading of the game that is most impressive, as he is always aware of what is going on around him. He has all the attributes to become England’s number one in the near future.

Mesut Ozil is finally coming into form

It has been a frustrating season for the German as he has failed to match his achievements of last season and has faced intense scrutiny from the press as a result.

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His future remains uncertain and that is another issue that needs to be addressed, but he was very good on Tuesday night and indicated that he could be coming back into form.

It may be too late to have a significant impact on Arsenal’s season, but it will give him confidence heading into the summer.

The German international got the assist for the first goal as he ghosted in behind the Sunderland defence and played a good ball across the six-yard area to give Alexis Sanchez a simple finish.

He was a constant threat with his passing in the final third and completed 12 key passes during the match. This was significantly more than any other player on the pitch and underlined the ability that he possesses.

The change to a 3-4-3 formation has helped him a lot and he may consider extending his stay in North London if Arsene Wenger wants to use it in the long term.

Featured image: All rights reserved by the Premier League

Article Categories:
Arsenal · Match Reaction · Sunderland
Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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