West Bromwich Albion were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday after a 3-1 loss at Arsenal sent them straight back down to the Championship after one season in the top flight. The defeat left the Baggies in 19th place with 26 points, 10 points behind fourth-bottom Burnley with only three games left to play.
It is the first time manager Sam Allardyce has suffered relegation from the Premier League during his 17 campaigns. West Brom started brightly but struggled to move the ball into good attacking positions, and when they did they failed to get their efforts on target.
Arsenal, on the other hand, put on a brilliant display of finishing to condemn them to the drop. Emile Smith Rowe connected perfectly with Bukayo Saka’s cross in the 29th minute to deftly volley Arsenal’s opener, and Nicolas Pepe cut in from the right before curling home an unstoppable left-foot shot six minutes later.
Pepe had another thumping effort saved by Sam Johnstone early in the second half and, with Saka carving West Brom open down the left, Arsenal had lots of chances to add to the score.
However, Matheus Pereira pulled one back for the visitors in the 67th after a surging run from deep inside his own half ended with him scoring from West Brom’s only shot on target.
That was all the Baggies could muster and Willian’s brilliant 90th-minute free kick wrapped up the points for Arsenal, who are in ninth place on 52 from 35 games.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said it was important for the club to get back to winning ways after their Europa League exit and was particularly pleased with his players' attitude. “After not going through to the final, it's always very important to win the game," said Arteta.
“It's always the best way to remedy the pain that we had, to win the game, to score the three beautiful goals that we have done and create so many more chances."
Arsenal travel to third-placed Chelsea on Wednesday and Arteta said his side had a duty to the fans to finish the season strong. "We have a huge responsibility to win every game we play when we represent this football club," he added. "If anybody can question anything, our level, our ability, whatever it is, they can.
West Brom will join basement club Sheffield United, who are already down, in the second-tier next season, but defender Kyle Bartley was in defiant mood despite his side’s relegation. “(I’m) massively disappointed, (but) it’s time to focus on these next three games, get as much momentum as possible to make sure we come straight back up next season,” he said. “I am really proud of the way the boys kept going. It would have been so easy to fold out there and lose four or five nil, but everyone kept going.”
Third-bottom Fulham were hosting Burnley last night knowing a defeat would also send them straight back down to the Championship.
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