West Bromwich Albion have 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 return to the Championship is now 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 difficult 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 superb individual goal with 23 minutes remaining.
But it was not enough to stop 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 out of the Europa League on Thursday, do at least still have a mathematical chance of 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 task of guiding them to survival.
Allardyce has previously kept Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Crystal Palace in the English top flight after taking control in similar scenarios, but the project at the Hawthorns proved too big with West Brom managing just four wins in the 22 league games he has overseen.
They arrived in north London needing to double that tally and win all of their remaining matches, while also hoping that one of Burnley, Southampton and Brighton failed to 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 before the half-hour mark.
It took a magical moment from Pereira to spark them into life once more, with the Brazilian scoring his 10th league goal of the season with a driving run and smart finish, before his countryman Willian’s free-kick put the game beyond the visitors.
It means West Brom return to the Championship at the 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 indeed the impressive Pereira, are at the club to lead the promotion bid next season remains to be seen, with the former England boss saying he will discuss his future once he and the club have dealt with the disappointment of going down.
More to follow.
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West Bromwich Albion
- 8CeballosBooked at 70minsSubstituted forParteyat 76′minutes
- 32Smith RoweSubstituted forTierneyat 63′minutes
- 35MartinelliSubstituted forLacazetteat 60′minutes
- 17CÃ©dric Soares
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forDianganaat 68′minutes
- 12Costa Pereira
- 18GallagherBooked at 76mins
- 17DiagneSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 56′minutesBooked at 62mins
Match ends, Arsenal 3, West Bromwich Albion 1.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, West Bromwich Albion 1.
Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion).
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Rob Holding.
Attempt blocked. Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Conor Townsend.
Goal! Arsenal 3, West Bromwich Albion 1. Willian (Arsenal) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the top left corner.
Willian (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).
Attempt blocked. Willian (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gabriel MagalhÃ£es.
Offside, West Bromwich Albion. Matt Phillips tries a through ball, but Hal Robson-Kanu is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Calum Chambers (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Attempt missed. Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Matheus Pereira with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).
Conor Gallagher (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).
Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).
Conor Gallagher (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Arsenal. Thomas Partey replaces Dani Ceballos.