Stoke, Sunderland in stalemate
Stoke-on-Trent - Stoke and Sunderland played out a dour 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday to extend their records as the Premier League's stalemate specialists.
Both Tony Pulis's Stoke and Martin O'Neill's Sunderland have now drawn six times in the league this season after a scrappy encounter between two sides desperately lacking a creative touch in the final third.
The point was enough to keep the teams in mid-table but, with just one win apiece in the league, they will need to develop a sharper cutting edge to avoid sinking towards the relegation zone.
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet pushed away a curling free-kick from Charlie Adam in the early stages and the ball came out to Ryan Shawcross, whose volley was well saved by the Belgian.
Stoke's first threat came from Michael Kightly as the winger bent a shot towards the top corner, only for Carlos Cuellar to head behind for a corner.
Moments later Cuellar nodded wide at the other end from Sebastian Larsson's free-kick.
Stoke lost defender Marc Wilson, stretchered off after a challenge with Steven Fletcher, soon after the restart.
And Black Cats striker Fletcher was involved again when his shot appeared to hit Stoke defender Robert Huth on the arm in the penalty area, but referee Mark Halsey waved play on.
Huth then forced a point-blank save from Mignolet as the hosts pressed for a winner in the closing stages.
Mignolet denied Huth from another header and Kightly shot wide in the final minutes as Sunderland held on.