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Saturday, August 14, 1999 Published at 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK

Sunderland scrap for point

Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal lost Emmanuel Petit and Dennis Bergkamp to injury as battling Sunderland showed they can compete with the Premiership's best - at least in front of their own noisy fans.

BBC Radio's Simon Brotherton: "Sunderland clearly learnt something from last Saturday's 4-0 mauling at Chelsea"
Last week's return to the top flight saw a 4-0 hammering at Chelsea while the midweek 2-0 win was over fellow Premiership newcomers Watford.

But here an industrious performance at the Stadium of Light ensured that Sunderland's unbeaten League record at home to the Gunners extended to 33 years.

The Premiership newcomers were sometimes adventurous in front of a record 41,680 crowd at their two-year-old stadium.

But they owe a huge debt to goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen for a number of fine saves.

[ image: Petit: Unable to continue after injury]
Petit: Unable to continue after injury
Striker Kevin Phillips was unable to add to his two midweek goals as manager Peter Reid chose to pack the middle of the field with five players.

John Oster, Alex Rae and Chris Makin all displayed their spirit for battle with some strong tackling on Arsenal's more cultured midfield.

Sunderland were moving at breakneck speed but the visitors' more considered approach was producing the better results and Sorensen did well to hold a Bergkamp free-kick.

The Dutchman also mis-kicked a Thierry Henry through-ball in the fifth minute on the edge of the box.

Phillips' determination gave him some space in Arsenal area to collect Rae's pass, but the forward fell over himself and the chance was lost.

Referee Uriah Rennie had received a standing ovation at the start after his dismissal of Alan Shearer last week.

And he was even more popular when he allowed play to continue after a Paul Butler challenge flattened Kanu to the obvious dismay of Gunners' boss Arsene Wenger.

Sunderland were beginning to come to terms with the pace of the game and a neat three-man passing move down the left culminated with Alex Manninger doing well to clear a Michael Gray cross.

Sorensen was again called into action to snuff out the danger from a Ray Parlour cross in the 19th minute.


The loss of Petit through injury moments before the break meant a swift re-organisation.

But substitute Fredrik Ljungberg almost made an immediate impact with a drive which Sorensen was forced to reach low for and push around his post.

Arsenal were dealt a further injury blow at half-time as Bergkamp was replaced by Luis Boa Morte.

And Sunderland made their own switch at the break with Oster departing for Gavin McCann.

Reid's tactic of a five-man midfield backfired in the 51st minute when Phillips was unable to find a team-mate after brushing off Silvinho.

At the other end Parlour grazed a crossbar with an 18-yard drive after Sorensen saved well from Boa Morte.

Bould was clearly struggling with injury and Reid replaced him with German international Thomas Helmer.

A crucial Rae tackle denied Vieira while Sorensen denied Ljungberg after Henry's clever through ball

As Sunderland battled Reid replaced Phillips with former Arsenal striker Niall Quinn with 12 minutes remaining.

And the Republic of Ireland almost got the winner with seven left on the clock but a desperate save from Manninger ensured the game remained goalless.


Sunderland: Sorensen, Makin, Bould, Butler, Gray, Ball, Summerbee, Rae, Schwarz, Oster, Phillips. Subs: Marriott, Quinn, Holloway, Helmer, McCann.

Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Upson, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu. Subs: Ljungberg, Grimandi, Boa Morte, Luzhny, Lukic.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield)

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