The inevitable became reality. With a loss to Arsenal, our hopes of Premier League survival are over.
Allardyce made two changes following our draw against Wolves, with Phillips (for O’Shea) and Robinson (for Maitland-Niles) coming into the side. The Baggies knew prior to the game that an Arsenal win would seal our fate in the Championship next season.
Prior to the game, protests took place outside of the Emirates stadium, with Arsenal fans unhappy with the owners of the club.
A really bright opening 10 minutes almost bore fruit, as Pereira’s long-range effort whistled past the Arsenal post. We then hit the crossbar just minutes later, after Robinson lifted the ball over Leno, but the offside flag was up anyway.
Heroics from Furlong followed, after Saka was through on goal, a last-ditch tackle kept the score line at 0-0.
Despite a promising Baggies opening 30 minutes, the quality of Arsenal punished us, as Smith-Rowe put the Gooners ahead with his first Premier League goal for Arsenal, with a clinical finish from a superb Saka cross.Embed from Getty Images
Things went from bad to worse for the Albion men. A stunning Pepe effort cutting in from the right-hand side of the penalty area left Johnstone with no chance, and with our Championship status all but confirmed.
The half-time whistle then came as a relief in all honesty for the Baggies, with Arsenal threatening to score a third. Nothing short of a miracle was needed in the second half for us not to be relegated yesterday evening.
The response needed at the start of the half was never seen. Early into the second half, a throw in wasn’t dealt with fell to Pepe, who forced a good save from Johnstone.
Allardyce introduced his first substitute in the 55th minute, with Robson-Kanu coming on for Diagne, who in truth, really struggled to hold up the ball.
A devastating Arsenal break almost brought them a deserved third, with Smith-Rowe inches from reaching a glorious Saka ball.
Matheus Pereira provided a rare stroke of quality in an otherwise disappointing night for the Baggies. His driving run from within his own half left Arsenal bodies in his wake as he smashed the ball into the bottom corner. Surely, we had to throw the kitchen sink at it now?Embed from Getty Images
The last realistic throw of the Albion dice came through the introduction of Grady Diangana for Robinson.
With 18 minutes left on the clock, a superb Phillips cross found the head of Furlong, who couldn’t direct his header goalward. It looked as though we were going down, but at least we were doing it with a bit of a fight.
The final nail in our Premier League coffin came with just one minute to go. Willian converted a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box, with a superb finish.
3-1. Game over and unfortunately, our season over as well.Embed from Getty Images
The defeat spells the end of our stay in the Premier League, with three games remaining.
It wasn’t the worst performance we’ve seen this season, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Shock, it only took a few months with the Baggies to get rid of Allardyce’s relegation record.
I might be clutching at straws here, but at least it’s never taken us longer than two years to get back up to the Premier League.
Ratings: Johnstone (6), Furlong (7), Ajayi (6), Bartley (6), Townsend (6), Yokuslu (7), Gallagher (6), Phillips (6), Pereira (8), Diagne (5), Robinson (5).
Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley (c), Townsend, Yokuslu, Gallagher, Phillips, Pereira, Diagne (Robson-Kanu,55), Robinson (Diangana, 67)
Unused Subs: Button, Peltier, Taylor, O’Shea, Gardner-Hickman, Livermore, Grant
Booked: Robson-Kanu, Gallagher
Leno, Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Saka, Ceballos (Partey,76), Elneny, Pepe, Willian, Smith Rowe (Tierney, 62), Martinelli (Lacazette, 59)
Unused Subs: Runarsson, Bellerin, Cedric, Odegaard, Aubameyang, Nketiah
Referee: Peter Bankes