An impressive debut from Andrey Arshavin failed to lift Arsenal to victory over a stubborn Sunderland.
The Russian almost scored twice in the first 15 minutes, shooting just wide and then seeing a drive well saved.
Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner also went close, while Dean Whitehead and Anton Ferdinand had shots kept out.
Carlos Vela, William Gallas and Van Persie all missed late chances, as Arsenal’s hopes of a Champions League spot were dealt another blow.
The Gunners went into the game looking to close the gap on fourth-placed Aston Villa, who lost to Chelsea earlier in the day.
And they started brightly, with new signing Arshavin creating an immediate impression.
He took only five minutes to show why Arsenal had pursued him so doggedly, as he picked up a loose ball and smashed a vicious, low drive only inches wide.
The little Russian was at it again shortly after, this time cutting in from the right and hitting a left-foot shot that forced Marton Fulop into a smart save.
THIS SEASON’S REVERSE FIXTURE
4 October 2008 – Ref: Lee Mason
Sunderland scorer: Leadbitter 86
Arsenal scorer: Fabregas 90