Arsenal 3 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Albion are relegated to the Championship
It’s finally done then. Inevitable since the summer budget was revealed but it’s been a painful road. Allardyce definitely identified what we needed and did his best but with COVID, us not getting the players in until the end of the window and him really failing to get the best out of what he inherited before he could change it we were really doomed from November.
I thought we’d get something tonight because this was a poor Arsenal side and they are brittle. We were also in yellow and green and probably had our best 11 forced on us.
That said I thought Allardyce got it wrong by playing Phillips in the centre, Robinson right and Pereira left. I’d have had Pereira central with Phillips right and Robinson left.
We started okay and had a couple of near moments but I thought after 20 odd minutes the above players/positions got shown up - no cover for Furlong, Phillips ball watching/not knowing the role and Pereira unable to stay pivotal in the game unless he’s central.
Their first was a good move but we were overloaded too easily on the right and had enough bodies to deal with it.
Their second was a great finish but came from our cheapness with the ball and, frankly, no midfielder covering the chop inside.
Before and after half time we shuffled positions but it took a wonder goal from Pereira, running from his own half and smashing it in to ignite us.
The key moment was Furlong putting a big chance header wide from a great Phillips cross. Not many more like that came our way and although we gave it everything an unnecessary clumsy challenge from Bartley allowed Willian chance to smash in a great free kick and that was it.
Kudos to Phillips and Townsend though, still running the length of the pitch in the 94th minute to link up and send a great cross in - that must have hurt the legs and lungs and they knew we were down by then too.
The decision making for next season needs to happen this week - we’ve known long enough to plan it. Start now and hit the ground running.
Well that finally confirmed what we've known for a while and by the time we get back in to watch a game we'll be playing championship football. I wasn't overly impressed with the starting lineup. I thought we looked unbalanced in the forward areas, I don't see Robinson as anything other than a striker so we were short in midfield from the start.
We did OK but we've relied on Pereira to create everything all season and as great has he's been on times (Great goal tonight) it was never going to have been enough to keep us up. We spent a fortune on Diangana to be an X factor player and he gets 20 minutes when it's too late.
3 - 1 was not a fair reflection of the game but we've been saying that a lot this season. I'd like to think we'll still try to get something from the remaining games and finish above Fulham but we'll see. The summer is going to be interesting but I fear until we get some ambition at board level then it might be a long wait until we get get back to the top flight.
I had joked to some friends before the game that if Big Sam brought on Hal Robson-Kanu for a last throw of the dice we knew we were in trouble... And so it came to pass, underlining how weak a threat we've offered going forward this season. Not much to say about the game, we huffed and puffed, but the Arsenal youngsters wanted it more. Of course the Pereira goal was a delight.
So looking ahead, what's in store? The loan players will go back to their clubs, except perhaps for Gallagher who would make a decent player in the Championship. Johnstone will probably be off to be back-up keeper at a top 6 side and I can see Pereira being made an offer he and the club won't refuse. We can and should offload Grant, Diagne, etc. Which leaves us with the makings of Championship defence (Furlong and Townsend impressed again last night. Big Sam will probably stay and make the best of what he's got and may be find a striker or two to make us a real threat. If Norwich can bounce back up so can we.
Once a Baggie, always a Baggie - looking forward to next season - and let's give the youngsters a go in the remaining 3 games. Sam needs to see what he's got.
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