Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland

Seldom can a goalless draw have been greeted with such delight by one side as at the Emirates last night. Sunderland retained their place in the Premier League with a gutsy and determined rearguard against the flair of Arsenal, earning a vital away point with a resilient display. It was enough to reduce the usually stoic Dick Advocaat to tears, as it represented the culmination of a nine-match effort to avoid the dreaded drop into the Championship next season.

Defensive set-up

Predictably the away side were set up with defence mainly in mind last night.

Arsenal still had designs on snatching second place away from Manchester City on the last day. That ambition was thwarted by the away side's efforts, despite one or two moments of real danger. Sunderland also missed presentable chances, especially for Steven Fletcher, yet the result yielded benefits for both sides. The Gunners are now more or less certain to finish third, Arsene Wenger's basic requirement at the start of the season.

Advocaat's mission

The 67-year-old, Advocaat was brought into the north-east club after the sacking of the flamboyant Gus Poyet, as the Wearsiders sought a desperate solution in desperate times. They had just lost 4-0 at home to Aston Villa, an abject performance by a team seemingly on the brink of the abyss.

Survival was the one thing on their minds and that is precisely what the Dutchman helped them to achieve, even managing to allow their beleaguered fans to enjoy their final fixture for once.

Final relegation place

For Hull City and the Black Cats' local rivals Newcastle United the picture is nowhere near as rosy. Both sides go into the final weekend perilously positioned, with one relegation place still to be determined.

Hull are in the worst position, needing to take all three points at home to Manchester United to have any chance of survival. Even that would not be good enough should United also win at home to West Ham in their final fixture. An 'unthinkable' draw or loss for Newcastle in front of 50,000 vocal Geordies at St James' Park, would leave the door ajar for a seemingly unlikely Hull escape.

Newcastle are just two points better off than Hull and their far inferior goal difference may yet cost them in the final analysis.

Sunderland's future?

Can Sunderland push on next season and avoid being in a similar position in twelve months? They seem to have been flirting with disaster for several seasons in a row now. Paolo Di Canio and Poyet have performed similar rescuing acts for the team in the past, only to suffer bad times shortly afterwards.

Advocaat's continuation in the hot seat would seem a sensible approach, although he seemed exhausted at the conclusion of last night's game and will probably need to re-consider his own ambitions. His initial appointment was just until the end of the current campaign.

With a loyal support behind them and a 49,000 capacity at the Stadium of Light, many would expect them to be at least mid-table most seasons in the top league. Much will clearly depend on their acquisitions and the departures from the club in the summer.