Arsenal ensured that the race for the top four will go down to the wire with a 2-0 win over relegated Sunderland in their English Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.
Alexis Sanchez, a major injury doubt for the game, started and scored two late second-half tap-ins to put the Gunners within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool.
Arsene Wenger continued with his 3-4-3 formation, with Hector Bellerin retaining his place in the line-up after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to recover in time for the clash against the Black Cats.
And the jet-heeled full-back terrorised Sunderland’s defence in the first-half, bombing down on the right flank but his poor decision-making let him down in the final third.
While the home side had the majority of chances, Sunderland had two attempts at goal from counters but with Petr Cech alert on both occasions, the scores remained level.
Mesut Ozil was pulling the strings in midfield for the Gunners, but with Sunderland’s young keeper Jordan Pickford in inspired form, the teams went into the dressing rooms at the interval scoreless.
David Moyes’ Sunderland fell further back as the match progressed, clearly happy with the draw and it seemed as the Arsenal supporters groups that had boycotted the game would be vindicated.
Credit to the Gunners, who kept plugging away and found the goal they deserved when Ozil sent Granit Xhaka’s chipped through-ball back across goal for Sanchez to bundle home in the 72nd minute.
With Sunderland largely unadventurous, the Gunners could have been excused for relaxing and holding on for the win, but Sanchez doubled their lead with a close-range header nine minutes later.
Sanchez’s second on the night was also his 24th in the league and he is just one behind Romelu Lukaku in the goalscoring charts now.
The final Champions League spot will be decided on Sunday, with Arsenal hoping Liverpool drop points at relegated Middlesbrough while they have a tough game against 7th-placed Everton.
Considering Sanchez is so close to Everton’s Belgian striker in the race for the Golden Boot, the tie at the Emirates will be fun to watch as plenty of sub-plots will coalesce on the last day of the 2016-17 Premier League season.