Arsenal keeps Champions League qualification hopes alive

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. Arsene Wenger will be relying on Liverpool or Manchester City slipping up on Sunday to qualify Arsenal for the Champions League for a 20th successive season. But they still need Liverpool to drop points against Middlesbrough or Manchester City to fall to a big defeat against Watford to have any chance of getting in.

Wenger had urged fans not to boycott the Sunderland fixture in their latest protest against the Gunners boss, but when the Frenchman emerged from the tunnel before kick-off he was greeted with swathes of empty red seats around the Emirates.

"We had plenty of shots on goal, but we needed to be patient", Wenger said.

"We want to get in there, let's give ourselves every chance", he said. "I'll give this one a miss".

"I answer for 20 years the question: 'Is the top four nothing special?' I don't know why, suddenly, it could become such a big problem [not to finish in the top four]". I want to make sure, absolutely, that we are in there but let's get to 75 points and see what happens.

That foreshadowed a nervous period for Arsenal, who looked short of ideas in the final third, and after Giroud glanced a header wide, Wenger sent on Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi. If we won, it would be the first time you make 75 points and you are not in the top four.

The Nigeria global, Alex Iwobi, finally had a taste of action with Arsenal, after a long time, as he was introduced as a second half substitute in the Gunners' 2-0 win over already relegated Sunderland.

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"No, it's Tuesday night against Sunderland, everyone expects us to win", he said.

Wenger claimed not to have noticed the massive number of empty seats inside the stadium or to care about them. We do our job, we have shown that again.

Arsenal's top-four bid would be over had Sanchez not grabbed a double in the last 18 minutes. "Once he is on the pitch and has the ball he becomes a devil and forgets his pain". He has not wasted his time.

Wenger had suggested earlier in the week that some teams are already "on holiday" as the season draws to a close. "I don't think Sunderland did that tonight, We had a go".

"I think that's an insult to football as I've been a player myself", he said.

Arsenal's 60,000-capacity stadium was only about two-thirds full for the penultimate home game of the season as some fan groups opted to stay away to mark their displeasure with the team's season.

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