West Brom down after defeat at Arsenal

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West Brom down after defeat at Arsenal
West Bromwich Albion have already been relegated from the Premier League for a fifth time after a defeat at Arsenal that keeps alive the Gunners' slim hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Sam Allardyce's side were already virtually down but their go back to the Championship is currently confirmed, with the Baggies sitting 10 points from safety with three games remaining.

Emile Smith Rowe volleyed a smart opener from Bukayo Saka's cross in the 29th minute after Arsenal had stemmed the visitors' promising start.
Nicolas Pepe made West Brom's task even more complicated six minutes later when he cut in from the right and curled into the top corner to double Arsenal's lead.

Matheus Pereira gave the visitors hope, running from his own half to score a outstanding individual goal with 23 minutes remaining.

But it was not enough to avoid West Brom suffering a joint-record fifth Premier League relegation, with Willian adding a late third for Arsenal from a free-kick.

Victory means the Gunners, who were knocked from the Europa League on Thursday, do at least still have a mathematical potential for playing European football next term.

Allardyce can't save Baggies

The fixture pitted two managers at contrasting ends of their coaching careers against each another but who are enduring similar periods of relative struggle.
For Allardyce, defeat at the Emirates confirms his first relegation from the Premier League as a manager, although the experienced 66-year-old had all but accepted their fate before the match.

The division's great escape artist replaced Slaven Bilic in December when the Baggies were 19th in the table and accepted the duty of trying to steer them to survival.

Allardyce has previously kept Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Crystal Palace in the English top flight after taking control in similar circumstances, however the rescue mission at the Hawthorns proved too large with West Brom managing just four wins in the 22 league games he has overseen.

They found its way to north London having to double that tally and win all their remaining matches, while also hoping that among Burnley, Southampton and Brighton didn't win any of theirs.

The Baggies started well and Pereira curled narrowly wide from distance before again firing off target from a promising break, but that confidence drained once Arsenal broke the deadlock prior to the half-hour mark.

It took a magical moment from Pereira to spark them into life once again, with the Brazilian scoring his 10th league goal of the growing season with a driving run and smart finish, before his countryman Willian's free-kick put the overall game beyond the visitors.

This means West Brom go back to the Championship at the very first time of asking and join Norwich City as the only sides to be relegated from the Premier League on five occasions.

Whether Allardyce, and even the impressive Pereira, are in the club to lead the promotion bid next season remains to be observed, with the former England boss saying he'll discuss his future once he and the club have dealt with the disappointment of heading down.

Youth key to Arsenal rebuild

Allardyce had little sympathy for under-pressure Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta prior to the game and said the Spaniard's time with the Gunners will "determine his career going forwards".

Seventeen months into his managerial career and the 39-year-old's tenure in north London has come beneath the spotlight after a meek Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal left the Gunners facing the chance of no European football next season for the very first time in 25 years.

A place in the Europa League does remain another opportunity with Arsenal sitting ninth, six points behind West Ham United in fifth and five behind Liverpool in sixth.

In any event, Arteta insists big changes should be designed to his squad for next season and expects the club's owners to back him in the transfer market.

He may well turn to build his future side around two homegrown stars in Saka and Smith Rowe, who've been excellent this season and combined superbly for the latter to score the opening goal.

The influential Saka, 19, has made more assists than any Arsenal player since his debut in November 2018 and got his 19th for the club when he picked out Smith Rowe for the 20-year-old to steer a volley beyond Sam Johnstone.

That was Smith Rowe's first Premier League goal and Arteta said afterwards the playmaker is "making the right steps" but must now continue steadily to score more.

Arteta may also be hoping club-record signing Pepe can produce more occasions like the the one which doubled the Gunners' lead immediately after, while 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli was trusted to lead the attack with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left on the bench.

'Relegation painful for club and players'

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce talking with Match of your day: "It's been looking difficult for some time and we haven't taken our chance to provide ourselves an improved opportunity of staying up.

"I think these players ought to be fighting to stay out of it. They have performed sufficiently but our features of scoring have deserted us.

"This is a disappointing night but we need to take it on the chin. It isn't as painful for me personally since it is for the club or players. It really is painful, I wanted it for the club and players more than me, but it hasn't happened. Everyone must accept it and recover quickly."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, talking with Match of the Day: "The easiest way to do it really is with the proper attitude. The three goals were completely different but excellent individual and collective actions.

"We've done so many right steps, some you can see and some you can't. The foundations are there."

Big Sam struggles at the Emirates - the stats

-Arsenal recorded back-to-back Premier League victories for the second amount of time in 2021, having previously done so in January.

-Of the five relegations West Brom have suffered from the Premier League, only in 2002-03 was their relegation confirmed with more games remaining (four).

-Arsenal are unbeaten within their past 30 Premier League home games against promoted sides (W25 D5), with their last such defeat in November 2010 against Newcastle.

-Sam Allardyce has didn't pick up a spot in his 10 Premier League trips to Emirates Stadium, with only Harry Redknapp at Old Trafford (15 visits) managing more matches at a single venue without earning at least one point.

-Emile Smith Rowe may be the fourth player aged 21 or under to score for Arsenal in the Premier League this year (along with Saka, Martinelli and Nketiah) - no team have had more.

-Matheus Pereira is the first West Brom player to attain 10 goals in a Premier League campaign since Saido Berahino scored 14 in 2014-15.
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