Five months after Big Sam Allardyce claimed that Arsenal were in a relegation battle, Mikel Arteta’s Gunners send West Brom down to the Championship.
A well-worked goal from Emile Smith Rowe followed by two screamers by Nicolas Pepe and Willian helped Arsenal bounce back from Thursday night’s disappointment.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the fixture…
The future is bright
Arsenal’s first goal tonight was a really special one for everyone associated with the club. Bukayo Saka’s brilliant cross found Smith Rowe inside the box, and the 20-year-old made a really difficult volleyed finish with his weaker foot look incredibly easy.
The Hale End pair’s emergence is the only positive Arsenal can take from this disastrous season. Saka and Smith Rowe, if we can keep hold them, will take our club to the very top, which makes the future really exciting.
Nicolas Pepe deserves a ton of credit for his tremendous strike but the biggest reason why he was able to do that was Calum Chambers’ overlap.
The Englishman dragged one West Brom defender away from Pepe and that was enough for the Ivorian to cut in and bang one into the top corner. He has lacked that kind of support all season.
Hector Bellerin is more than capable of doing what Chambers did today, but for some reason, the Spaniard has refused to make that decoy run regularly this term. That has been a big handicap for us on the right side, and that could well be why he will be moved on this summer.
Take one for the team!
As we’ve done all season, Arsenal allowed West Brom back into the game by allowing Matheus Pereira to run the length of the pitch and score.
Three Arsenal players – Dani Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Magalhaes – had the chance to bring the Baggies star down. They would’ve received a yellow card for sure, but that could’ve helped maintained a clean sheet.
We didn’t do that and that made things more difficult for us than it should’ve been.
Better late than never
Willian finally broke his duck for Arsenal and what better way to do that than with a stunning free-kick.
The Brazilian would be many people’s pick for the worst signing of the season. He has simply not been able to replicate what he did for many years at Chelsea, but his goal tonight brought back memories of the old Willian.
It means absolutely nothing now in terms of importance to the team, but it should do him a world of good. He’s not going anywhere this summer, so hopefully, this goal will help him become the player Arteta thought he would be when he brought him in last summer.
Arteta’s biggest mistake of the season
Apart from Smith Rowe, the two best players for Arsenal today were Pepe and Saka. The latter started at left-back, picked up an assist and could’ve easily set up two or three more goals.
Why didn’t Arteta do this on Thursday against Villarreal?
A fully sit Saka at left-back with Pepe on the right would’ve made us a lot stronger than we were against Unai Emery’s men. That decision alone could’ve helped save our season, but Arteta decided to go with a half-fit Tierney, and that, in our opinion, was the Spaniard’s biggest mistake this term.