West Brom’s Premier League relegation is confirmed with defeat at Arsenal as Willian breaks Gunners goal duck
West Brom join Sheffield United in next season’s Championship as their 3-1 defeat at Arsenal confirmed their relegation from the Premier League.
Sam Allardyce’s men gave themselves a lot of work to do as they found themselves 2-0 down at half time.
The first Gunners goal was a well-crafted move as Emile Smith Rowe volleyed home Bukayo Saka’s cute cross from the left.
Nicolas Pepe doubled Arsenal’s advantage in stunning style, cutting in from the right before firing the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Mathues Pereira’s fine effort gave the Baggies hope midway through the second half – the Brazilian getting the ball on the halfway line and running through the heart of the Arsenal midfield before finding the net from the edge of the box via the post.
But any hope of clinging onto their top flight status diminished in stoppage-time as Willian curled in a lovely free-kick. This is Willian’s first goal for Arsenal on his 37th appearance for them.
For the hosts, this was a positive response to their Europa League semi-final exit at the hands of Villarreal on Thursday night and just about kept alive their hopes of securing European football in some guise next season.
It is an indictment of Arsenal’s own league campaign that, if West Brom had won in north London, they would have moved closer in the table to the Gunners than Mikel Arteta’s men are to second-placed Manchester United.
But it was not to be as West Brom returned to the Championship after one season back in the top flight.
Pereira went agonisingly close top putting the visitors ahead with their first opening of the game, bending a strike inches wide of Bernd Leno’s goal with the Germany international beaten.
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Callum Robinson was recalled to the Baggies side and hit the crossbar soon after, only to see the offside flag raised.
Allardyce’s team were certainly on top and Pereira whistled another effort wide as they looked to give themselves an early lead.
Bukayo Saka, operating at left-back for the hosts, was once again the bright spark in their side and saw penalty appeals waved away after he broke into the box and was well challenged by Darnell Furlong.
West Brom may have created the best of the early openings but it was Arsenal who would break the deadlock, Smith Rowe slotting home from a Saka cross on 29 minutes for his first Premier League goal before Pepe’s stunner made it 2-0.
Albion responded after the break and refused to go down with a whimper, Pereira running the full length of the Arsenal half before scoring past Leno to half the deficit.
But, while Allardyce had never previously tasted Premier League relegation, he failed to record a first-ever away win against Arsenal as a manager as a superb Willian free-kick in the last minute secured the points for the hosts.
It remains to be seen if the 66-year-old will stay in place to lead the charge for an instant return to the top tier.
His counterpart will, at least, have enjoyed a first home win since beating derby rivals Tottenham on March 14 – with Arteta still mathematically able to guide Arsenal into Europe’s lesser competitions come the end of the campaign.