Alexis Sanchez scored both goals as Arsenal beat Sunderland 1 Alexis Sanchez hit a brace as Arsenal secured victory over relegated Sunderland in front of a sparsely populated Emirates Stadium to keep alive their dwindling hopes of Champions League qualification.The Gunners needed to beat David Moyes’ men to take the battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League down to the last day of the campaign.They made heavy weather of their task, with Sanchez scoring a close-range double inside the final 17 minutes to secure the points with a 2-0 win.Under-fire Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has never finished outside of the top four in a full season at the helm but despite this win, and even though it remains mathematically possible, the club look set for a Europa League campaign next year.Manchester City’s victory over West Brom means Arsenal need to beat Everton on Sunday and hope Liverpool slip up at home to Middlesbrough to gate-crash the top four.Wenger’s own position still remains a mystery as he has yet to announce if he will sign a new deal to remain at the club beyond the FA Cup final meeting with Chelsea in two weeks’ time.A lot of the home fans who stayed away from this clash did so in protest against Wenger remaining in charge – those who opted to attend were left short-changed.Some supporters opted to stay away for other reasons but the official attendance of 59,510 was certainly wide of the mark, with Arsenal recording tickets sold rather than the figure who attended.Arsenal thought they were ahead early on but saw a goal correctly chalked off as a Sanchez shot hit Giroud on the arm as it flew past Jordan Pickford in the visitors’ goal.Moments later the young Black Cats goalkeeper, who has been linked with a move to the Emirates, did well to keep out a genuine Giroud strike as the France striker found himself free in front of goal.Despite camping out in the Sunderland half, Wenger’s side had few clear-cut chances after his early save from Giroud and it was his counterpart Petr Cech who had to dive low to stop Didier N’Gong scoring against the run of play.Hector Bellerin hit the side-netting after bursting into the box and the half ended with Pickford tipping an Aaron Ramsey strike behind.The second half began in farce for Arsenal as Nacho Monreal’s overhit backpass was scrambled behind by a back-tracking Cech, resulting in an indirect free-kick for Sunderland.Shkodran Mustafi saw a header hacked off the line as Arsenal reached the hour-mark without breaking through, with Giroud glancing a header wide as the game wore on.Wenger threw on Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi but the former was again kept at bay by Pickford, who turned a low strike behind.Sanchez finally opened the scoring soon after, converting an easy chance from in front of goal as Ozil crossed from a pinpoint Xhaka pass.The Chilean had been on the periphery but hit the crossbar with a cheeky lobbed effort, with Pickford again on hand to deny Xhaka and Iwobi in spectacular fashion.Pickford was powerless to prevent Sanchez doubling the lead with nine minutes remaining, parrying Giroud’s flick into the path of the former Barcelona man, who headed in to seal the victory.Mustafi had a late header brilliantly turned on to the bar by Pickford but Sanchez had once again provided the heroics to keep Arsenal’s league campaign alive until the final day.
And why not, as that evening the soft-spoken Kenyan did what no one had done before. On the way to breaking his own world record, the 23-year-old became the first person to run the 800m in less than 1 minute 41 seconds.Neither did he strike Usain Bolt’s ‘lightning’ pose nor did he do the ‘Mobot,’ but Rudisha became the first to break an athletics world record at the London Olympics. His current world record stands at 1.40: 91 secs.Despite the enormity of the feat, the star was surprised by the welcome he got back home.Rudisha said he found it rather unexpected when the elders of his community in Kilgoris, Kenya, made him the ‘warrior leader’. “When I was running in Europe, boys of my age from my community (Masai) were graduating to the senior category. They were becoming warriors. When I returned to the country they made me the warrior leader,” Rudisha told Mail Today. “The elders said though I had not killed a lion, I had broken the world record.”Currently in India as the event ambassador of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Rudisha knows that young Kenyans now look up to him for inspiration. He feels that Kenya has several excellent athletes which is the reason for their success, rather than high-class infrastructure.”If you look at infrastructure, Kenya doesn’t have that much. In fact in India I guess they have better facilities. We do better in long distance and middle distance as the training procedure is much more natural unlike the sprints where you need more technical training,” Rudisha said.”I don’t think it’s because of our genes. Kenya has lot many inspirational figure in athletics. Every other child there wants to be an athlete just like every other kid in India wants to be the next Sachin Tendulkar. India need figures like him in athletics.” Rudisha’s own inspiration is his father Daniel, who was part of the Kenyan 4x400m relay team that won silver at the 1968 Olympics. “I took up running because I always had the passion. Moreover my father was a runner and I wanted to be like him,” he said.”He used to say if you have to win a medal you will have to be faster than me. I am happy I have gone one up on his performance.” Coming back to that night in London when he rewrote history, Rudisha says: “I already held the world record (1: 41.09) when I came to London. I was targeting the 1.41 mark. But I ran even faster.”Prior to the race I had told my manager (James Templeton) that if I could complete the first lap (400m) in 49 seconds then I could make the mark.” He knows that comparison with another legendary athlete, Usain Bolt was natural. He jokingly said that if ever the duo competes, it will be a close affair.”We are great friends. There have been talks of having a race for a distance of about 500m. If it happens I would say it will be a 50- 50 affair,” he smiled.But Rudisha does not want to rest on his laurels, as he has already set his next target. “After I broke the world record for the first time in 2010, I wanted to win an Olympic medal. Now that I have won it, I have started training for the 2013 Moscow World Championships,” he said.Rudisha also praised the field at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. “There are 10 guys who have sub-60 minute timings. So it will be competitive,” he said.Indians confidentKenyans and Ethiopians may be the top contenders for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon title, but Indians are not intimidated. Steeple chase runner Sudha Singh who is participating in the Sunday race said though Kenyans are talented, Indians can do wonders in long distance running too. “It’s not that we don’t give effort. We also put in hard work and practice for the same duration of time. We have trained with them and there’s nothing special,” she said. “It’s just that we get to train with such high class athletes at a later stage while they train with them from childhood.”advertisement