Itwas a case of the late, late show in both of the Sunday games in the PremierLeague, as Sunderland edged the latest Tyne-Wear derby and Liverpool snatched adramatic draw against Champions League place chasing Arsenal deep into injurytime.

Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 1

GusPoyet came perilously close to substituting his eventual match winner, AdamJohnson, minutes before his vital goal. He was thankful for a change of mind asthe tricky winger sent the away fans into rapture to seal a 1-0 victory forSunderland at St James’ Park, in a predictably entertaining match between thenear neighbours.

Alan Pardew’s men were hoping to reverse a recent trend infavour of the Black Cats in the fixture, but once again left disappointed asNewcastle lost the derby for the fourth straight time with the winner arrivingin the 90th minute.

Asbefits such a keenly contested derby, no quarter was given nor asked for as thechallenges flew in early on, but the game turned into very watchable fayre,with both teams having a number of chances to take all three points andbragging rights for the upcoming weeks.

Sunderlandhit the bar from a Steven Fletcher volley and Connor Wickham saw his skimming shotturned on to the post by Jak Alnwick in the Newcastle goal in the first-half,as the game settled down. As the game ebbed and flowed, the home side sawchances of their own squandered with SammyAmeobi’s smart footwork ending with a tame shot straight at the keeper and AyozePerez’s curling shot just going wide ofthe post.

Newcastleseemed to be creating the better of the second-half chances as Costel Pantilimonin the Black Cats’ goal defied them with a string of fine saves from Perez, AdamArmstrong and Moussa Sissoko, but were stretched at the back on severaloccasions as they pushed on for the winner.

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Premier League

Johnson’smatch-defining goal followed a spell of Newcastle pressure, with the ball beingcleared and Sunderland swiftly switching play to the other end, sensing thatPardew’s players may have overcommitted themselves. As the away side cleverlyswitched their probing from one side to the other and stretched the defence toits limits, Johnson found space in the area to smash his shot into the net.

Seb Larsson almost made it two deep into injurytime for Sunderland as he rounded the keeper but his shot found the sidenetting.

It mattered not as Sunderland held on.

Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2

ForLiverpool it was a bittersweet and hard-earned point against Arsenal at Anfieldin the end. After dominating possession in the first-half and going in frontthrough Philippe Coutinho’s neatfootwork on the edge of the Arsenal box and precise right foot finish offthe inside of the post, they found themselves behind entering the nine minutesof added on time at the end of the match. It had taken Arsene Wenger’smercurial side just two minutes to regain parity after the Reds took the lead,as a period of head tennis inside the box ended with Mathieu Debuchy outjumpingMartin Skrtel to head in and take the sides slightly surprisingly into thebreak all-square.

ArseneWenger’s men then played mainly on the break and thought that a slick move involvingSanti Cazorla that led to Olivier Giroud’s sweeping the ball through Brad Jones’legs had clinched it for them,especially when substitute Fabio Borini was sent off for two yellow cards toreduce the home side to ten men. His first booking was particularly idiotic ashe threw the ball away in dispute over a decision, but the second was not indispute as his high studs visibly left Cazorla’s shirt torn.

Liverpoolwere thankful for the nine minutes of injury time indicated by the fourthofficial and against the odds forced a number of corners, one of which led to thehead-bandaged Skrtel (after an earlier collision with Giroud) rescuing a point atthe death as he convincingly headed in to the net.

Asthe injury time ran out, there was stilltime for Cazorla's driven shot to require a smart save from Jones to maintainparity.

BrendanRodgers believes his side are getting back to something like their form of lastseason and can still grab a top four place in the league this time around, butthey may have left it a bit too late for that unless their results dramaticallyimprove in the New Year and other teams above them falter. More likely is a topsix place, so he will be keen to progress in the Europa League where aChampions League place is to be awarded to the winning team.

ArseneWenger’s men maintain their hopes of a top four finish and would have been thehappier (in hindsight) with the draw one feels, but can not afford to let toomany wins slip from their grasp as this one did.

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